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File 162008185547.jpg - (224.22KB, 1207x1198, 1207px-TFM-07.jpg) [iqdb]
202201
"You can't be serious!"

Sumireko responded with a noise that she would firmly deny bore any relation to a squee. "I told you this is for real! The bake-danuki gave me Gensokyo's own Occult Ball!"


Despite your misgivings, you hid a grin. For all she loves acting above it all and making noise about her psychic powers, Sumireko looked every inch a high school girl just now. Well, apart from the animated cape and her levitating from sheer excitement. You shook your head and got back to the matter at hand. "There's no way a youkai just gives someone anything, right? We've both read up on those legends; there's always a trap or a trick, or something."

"Oh, she didn't just give it to me. I won it off of her in a duel, right above downtown!"

Even with all the notice-me-not charms Sumireko's got going on, you're still shocked that didn't make the news. "And that's another point. Every single youkai you've summoned has fought you. Why would this one be willing to give you a treasure like that? A duel isn't exactly a friendly thing."

Sumireko considered that for just a moment. "I'm pretty sure in Gensokyo it's just the long version of saying hello. But to get to the actual question, they all thought they would win, not realizing their tricks were helpless against the wisdom of humanity. Besides, the Occult Ball is clearly legitimate! I know you can feel the power coming off of it."

While you were skeptical of the rest of her argument, she isn't wrong about that last point. While Sumireko herself is radiating more power, the Gensokyo Occult Ball isn't exactly outclassed. That thing's capable of some serious sorcery. Heck, to be emitting that much magic passively and still be a long-term enchantment, it would have to be continuously drawing power from Gensokyo, which is even more evidence of her claim.

All the same, something feels a little off about the whole thing.

"I don't know, Sumi-"

"Come on, this is our chance! We can finally visit Gensokyo as we please, find more real magic beyond just ours! Not just one, but two worlds are going to be our oyster! What do you say?"

"You're just going to go without me if I say no, aren't you?"

"I know there was a reason I let you join!"

As per usual, dealing with Sumi is more about how she gets her way than whether she gets it. You laugh and shake your head. This is reckless in the extreme, but what about this whole Occult Balls plan wasn't? And it's not like Sumireko has steered you wrong yet. Except for that whole matter with the centipedes, but if it weren't for that, you'd never have ended up part of the Secret Sealing Club in the first place, so it's not the worst thing ever.



[-] Fine, but let me go first. We can't risk anything happening to you, and if anything goes wrong, I'll need you to bail me out.
[-] Fine, let's go together. Even if this is a youkai trap, the two of us can fight our way out.

-- ALSO --

[?] What's the main character's name?
[x] Go together.

[x] Cockroach. Like, that's it. You're just a delusional cockroach.
[x] Fine, let's go together. Even if this is a youkai trap, the two of us can fight our way out.

[x] Gregor
[x] Fine, let's go together. Even if this is a youkai trap, the two of us can fight our way out.

[x] Watanabe
Alright, let's see where this goes.
[x] Fine, let's go together. Even if this is a youkai trap, the two of us can fight our way out.
[x] Fine, let's go together. Even if this is a youkai trap, the two of us can fight our way out.

"Looks like I'd better make sure you don't get yourself killed.", you drawled.

"Your service as a distraction is appreciated."

"I think I'm more than just a distraction here."

"Bait? Meatshield?" Sumi grinned. "We both know I'm the real firepower here."

"I'll be sure to scream disturbingly while they try to kill me."

"That's the spirit, Roach!"

You scowled at the nickname, which was the legacy of a particularly disastrous transmutation. The exercise had been to turn a spare shirt into a rock, but, you'd made a couple of mistakes with the runes involved. Instead of targeting the spare shirt, you'd transformed the one you were wearing at the time. And instead of turning it into a pile of rocks, well... let's just say 'screaming at a few bugs' was more than justified. You still had nightmares about the damn thing, not helped by how Sumireko had saved a video of it on her previous phone. If you ever met the youkai that stole it from her, you were buying them a beer. And asking them for the whole story, Sumi was oddly tight-lipped about the whole thing, which made you certain it was embarrassing enough to be worth hearing.

"Anyway, if we're doing this, we're doing it right."

"Oh, of course!" Sumi pulled out her new smartphone and started recording selfie style. She coughed and went into formal mode, "This is a historic moment for the Secret Sealing Club! I, Sumireko Usami, have won the Gensokyo Occult Ball! With this artifact, we can travel freely between the two worlds! And I do mean we, for traveling with me will be my vice president, Gregor Watanabe! In this journey, we will-"

You rolled your eyes and tuned her out. Sumireko's little magic journalist thing was equal parts adorable and irritating, but at least it gave you time to look over your own preparations. You'd already packed a backpack with the basics: spell components, a reference book on runes, and some pre-written spells you'd carved into some small wooden tablets. All that said, there was space for a little more, and magic wasn't everything.

--CHOOSE YOUR MAGIC--
Pick one area to excel in, two to be competent in, and the remaining two you'll be useless at.

[-] Illusions. Sumireko gives you a lot of practice, and you're pretty sure your ability to cover up shenanigans is the only thing keeping her off the news on a weekly basis.
[-] Elemental magic. Whether fire, electricity, or wind, you're more than capable of bringing the heat. Or snow, if preferred.
[-] Enchantment. Your best work was Sumireko's cape, which was animated, bulletproof, contained several emergency spells, and machine washable. Surprisingly, that last one had been the hardest to pull off.
[-] Transformation. The roaches were a one-off mistake. Since then, Sumi had proven that sentient magical beings could resist transfiguration, but you were pretty confident with anything inanimate. You could get some pretty good detail, though your transformations weren't actually permanent.
[-] Mental magic. How do you think the Secret Sealing Club found out about Gensokyo in the first place? You'd stumbled on a youkai traveling across the Great Hakurei Border, and picked up some secrets from the surface of their mind.

--CHOOSE YOUR EQUIPMENT--

[-] Money. It was obvious there was civilization on the other side of the border, and you had the equivalent of a few thousand dollars handy. You wouldn't exactly be buying a house or anything, but it should be enough for any practical needs, and maybe you could bribe someone into parting with a magical souvenir.
[-] Camping gear. Rope, some matches, a lantern, a couple days of canned food and water, and a sleeping bag. If you wanted or needed to rough it for a day or two, you were covered.
[-] Guns. Only a pistol and an old hunting rifle, but it was a pretty safe bet most of these youkai didn't know what a firearm was. At least one of the things that Sumireko had fought was human, and you were pretty sure they couldn't cast faster than a bullet.

Next update will cross into Gensokyo proper.>>202201
>Gregor Watanabe
oh my god

[x] Illusions. Sumireko gives you a lot of practice, and you're pretty sure your ability to cover up shenanigans is the only thing keeping her off the news on a weekly basis.

[x] Transformation.
[x] Mental magic.

>taking Evocation, ever

[x] Camping gear. Rope, some matches, a lantern, a couple days of canned food and water, and a sleeping bag. If you wanted or needed to rough it for a day or two, you were covered.

I don't think lawyers, guns, and money will save you from bad drinking water.
[x] Illusions. Sumireko gives you a lot of practice, and you're pretty sure your ability to cover up shenanigans is the only thing keeping her off the news on a weekly basis.

[x] Enchantment.
[x] Elemental magic.

[x] Camping gear. Rope, some matches, a lantern, a couple days of canned food and water, and a sleeping bag. If you wanted or needed to rough it for a day or two, you were covered.

I have no idea what would be useful but doubt that money will get you very far with a random youkai.

>>202207
Shoot at the water until it learns who is the boss.
[x] Illusions. Sumireko gives you a lot of practice, and you're pretty sure your ability to cover up shenanigans is the only thing keeping her off the news on a weekly basis.

[x] Transformation.
[x] Mental magic.

[x] Camping gear. Rope, some matches, a lantern, a couple days of canned food and water, and a sleeping bag. If you wanted or needed to rough it for a day or two, you were covered.

Bring a water pistol with us just to shoot the goofball in the face.
[X] Illusions

[X] Enchantment
[X] Transformations

[x] Camping gear
[X] Enchantment

[X] Illusions
[X] Mental magic.

[X] Camping gear.
[x] Summoning roaches

[x] Turning garbage into food
[x] Locating trash piles

[x] A package of fellow roach friends
File 162016980838.png - (348.20KB, 538x647, external-content_duckduckgo.png) [iqdb]
202213
Well, that was a close vote. Illusions are the clear winner for the specialty, and camping gear's the obvious equipment pick, but the secondary magical abilities are tied. So in this case... enjoy.

[X] Illusions (Specialty)
[X] Enchantment (Secondary)
[X] Transformations (Secondary)
[X] Mental Magic (Secondary)

[X] Camping gear

It's honestly really fortunate you'd been brushing up on your utility magic. It turned out packing all the camping gear you'd wanted had required either three bags and a demanding exercise routine, or a combination of larger-on-the-inside and anti-gravity enchantments. And you still had to transfigure the tent to get it to fit at all. After a moment's hesitation, you stuffed an extra sleeping bag in there. You knew for a fact Sumireko wouldn't think of such bare essentials, and she wouldn't take kindly to sleeping on dirt while you enjoyed comfort.

Relative comfort, anyway. You'd figure out how to shrink down a bed eventually.

Regardless, you could tell from the decreasing background noise that Sumi was finally done with her little magical journalist video, and was approaching the power stone. She was pointing the phone camera at you and watching expectantly.

"What?", you asked, shouldering your backpack.

She tapped her feet as you approached. "I said, does my vice president have any words for this historic moment?"

Oh, so she wasn't done. Well, you could fix that. "I still think it's stupid to have a vice president for a club of two people."

She hit you in the shoulder with her free hand. "Roach! You ruined it!"

You gave Sumireko a smirk. "And nothing of value was lost."

She shot you a glare that promised vengeance, but let it go for now. "Just hold on."

She started chanting in pig-latin, too fast for you to comprehend any of it (she claimed it was Latin, but the one time you'd bothered to record it said otherwise), and the stone started levitating and glowing. You closed the last bit of distance and held on to her shoulder, careful not to nudge her arms. You'd learned a lot working with Sumi, but dimensional travel wasn't on that list, and you had no real idea what her hand positioning meant, or even if it meant anything. Heck, even the chant might have just been your friend's flair for the dramatic.

But in this case, the artifact had dramatic covered. Waves of light poured out from it, piercing through you like a cold wind. With each wave, the surroundings of the club got dimmer and hazier, while Sumireko and the artifact seemed more real. As if they were the only thing that existed, or had ever existed, alone in a void of empty space. Just as you the cold became too much to bear, as you thought the thing had misfired and really stranded you somewhere in outer space, one final wave of light came in, this one from the outside in. Warmth returned to you in a rush, and reality returned with it. A shrine backed by a grove of cherry trees, with a grassy field and a cobblestone path in front... right up to the point where it vanished into a massive gap in the ground.

You were officially in Gensokyo. In front of the Hakurei Shrine, if Sumireko's info was good.

That said, you didn't have a ton of time to think about it. The moment reality stabilized, you got flung back as from a shockwave, sending you skipping across the grass and into the trunk of a of the cherry tree. Sumireko was completely unaffected, flying up into the air above the gap. She spun around, saw you sprawled across the tree roots, and actually looked concerned.

"Rough landing?", she asked, swooping down.

"Sumi, the power stone!"

It had cracked, and as you watched, it shattered completely and disintegrated into dead leaves. Sumireko stared at it, stunned.

"That... that tankui! "

You gave her a flat look. "I told you-"

"Don't you say it! We've got bigger problems!"

"Yes, but I totally told you-"

"I said be quiet!"

You were great at following orders, so you telepathically sent back an I told you so. Because damn it, you totally called this. Sumireko looked like she really wanted to snap back with an excuse (or maybe just an insult), but shuddered.

"Someone's coming. I'll confront them, you hide."

You didn't have that sort of sixth sense, but you'd learned not to doubt Sumi's. You nodded for her to take off, and quickly put up a veil around yourself. Not your best work, but it should keep you safe from anything short of a dedicated search. And only just in time; Sumireko had barely gotten back in the air before the precense arrived.

"Welcome to Gensokyo."

She was flying too, of course. Pink hair, that bandaged arm, those weird cloth things on either side of her head... you'd watched Sumi fight this youkai before, she was one of the first to cross into your world. Kasen something, wasn't it?

Sumireko glared. "So you're the welcoming committee. Did the power stone's activation draw you?"

"You mean Mamizou's trick? Oh no, I was waiting for you. Though you are right about one thing." Kasen laughed and cracked her knuckles. "There will be a lot of youkai coming before long. Gensokyo's not happy with you, Sumireko."

It's clear the youkai intends a fight, but if you act fast, you might be able to sway things a different direction. What's the plan?

[-] Diplomacy! Kasen's at least still talking, and she hasn't met you yet. Surely you can negotiate something.
[-] Let Sumireko handle this, and investigate the shrine. There's got to be some sort of youkai-repelling stuff in here, right?
[-] Telepathically signal Sumireko to sneak off, and use an illusion to keep Kasen busy.
[-] She wants a fight, let's give her a fight! Sumireko was evenly matched with Kasen before, and now you can actively help.
[?] Write-in?
[x] Summon your roach brothers for battle
[x] Let Sumireko handle this, and investigate the shrine. There's got to be some sort of youkai-repelling stuff in here, right?
[X] Telepathically signal Sumireko to sneak off, and use an illusion to keep Kasen busy.
Something something tactical retreat.
[X] Let Sumireko handle this, and investigate the shrine. There's got to be some sort of youkai-repelling stuff in here, right?
[X] Let Sumireko handle this, and investigate the shrine. There's got to be some sort of youkai-repelling stuff in here, right?
[x] Diplomacy! Kasen's at least still talking, and she hasn't met you yet. Surely you can negotiate something.

Make a trade with Kasen.
File 162018267343.jpg - (161.34KB, 600x580, PMiSS_hakureishrine.jpg) [iqdb]
202220
[X] Let Sumireko handle this, and investigate the shrine. There's got to be some sort of youkai-repelling stuff in here, right?

Right now, Gensokyo didn't seem to know you were there, and you'd like to keep it that way for just a little longer. But that did mean you needed to explain yourself to your partner in crime. Or at least set yourself up with an excuse.

Think you can take her?, you mentally asked Sumireko.

Please. She caught me by surprise the first time, but now I know her tricks.

Good. Keep her busy for me then, I'm going to check out this shrine.

Wait, you're not helping?!

You declined to answer back, and snuck towards the shrine, veil still up. Behind you heard the humming energy of danmaku and some muffled thumps; apparently Kasen had gone ahead and attacked. But hey, Sumireko was a big girl, could handle this herself, and totally deserved at least a bit of a hard time anyway.

And seriously, if you two were stuck in Gensokyo for good, you'd need a bigger edge than just a single sneak attack. Sumi had already pulled over two humans that somehow lived in this place, which meant survival was possible. You just had to figure out how they pulled it off. And considering this looked to be a shrine for humans (were shrines for youkai even a thing?), this would be the place to start.

The shrine exterior is covered in dust and fallen leaves, with the exception of the donation box, which is oddly pristine. It's run down enough to make you wonder if anyone actually lives here, but sneaking through the front doors puts those fears to rest. The main room in the interior is much better kept, but still fairly sparse. Some low tables to sit are on either side, and a cabinet in one corner has a few pictures. Most of the people in them you don't know, but there are two faces in particular that keep showing up. One of a girl in a red and white shrine maiden's outfit whom you've never seen before, and one of a girl in a black and white magician's getup. Marisa.

One of the tables also has a plate and cup set for a meal. Which does mean someone's living here, and given this is a shrine, it's probably the red and white one. And as you walk closer, you can hear voices coming from the kitchen. So the shrine maiden is in, and possibly able to help. Except, there's no way anyone in here could miss what's going on outside. You can hear Sumireko cursing, meeting the youkai's danmaku with her own brand of telekinesis. (Why she's so good at summoning road signs, you'll never know.) If she was inclined to help, why hasn't she already? It might be a power thing; this one never showed up outside of Gensokyo, so she probably wasn't strong enough to collect seven Occult Balls.

Wait. Voices, plural, and the table here is set for one. An unexpected guest? You sneak closer, taking care that your veil is still up, and catch a glimpse of red and white, along with a snatch of conversation.

"Why are you here? How are you here?", quietly outraged.

"How doesn't matter." said in a dull, almost toneless voice. "You'd stop me if you could."

"The only reason I'm not fighting you right now is because-"

"You need to deal with the high school student outside. I know. That's why I came now."

"Will you-"

"No, Reimu. It's a stupid plan, but I won't interfere."

You can hear a chair being shoved back, and the next bit is said through gritted teeth, "But why did you come-"

"At all? The Urban Legend incident seemed promising, and I heard you were investigating it." And with just a hint of smugness, "Unfortunately, your head is as empty as always."

You hear one of them pushing a chair back and getting up, so it's time to make a choice.

[-] Hide in here and continue listening. This is interesting stuff, and your veil should keep you hidden.
[-] There's still another wing to this shrine you haven't explored yet! Whether that's amulets or prayer cards or what have you, this shrine maiden has to keep her weaponry somewhere.
[-] Get close to the door, and try touching their minds. It's risky, but you need to know about this plan.
[-] Bail. There's something weird about that visitor, and you don't want to give them a chance to deal with you.
[x] Get close to the door, and try touching their minds. It's risky, but you need to know about this plan.

fondle the monke
[x] Find their rubbish and get cozy inside
[X] Get close to the door, and try touching their minds. It's risky, but you need to know about this plan.
[x] Bail. There's something weird about that visitor, and you don't want to give them a chance to deal with you.

Trespassers will be shot.
[X] Hide in here and continue listening. This is interesting stuff, and your veil should keep you hidden.

Recon is important, but looking into their minds could backfire horribly.
[x] Bail. There's something weird about that visitor, and you don't want to give them a chance to deal with you.

Level 1 scrub practicioner < level 999 shrine maiden
[x] Bail. There's something weird about that visitor, and you don't want to give them a chance to deal with you.
[x] Find their rubbish and get cozy inside
File 162025385891.png - (2.54MB, 1400x1100, external-content_duckduckgo.png) [iqdb]
202229
[x] Bail. There's something weird about that visitor, and you don't want to give them a chance to deal with you.

You almost went for the mind reading. You were tempted, really tempted, but no. You couldn't be sure it wouldn't expose you, and you didn't have Sumireko's raw power. Not to mention, even if you did, there was the very real possibility that one or both of these people (youkai?) could take her down anyway.

So instead, you snuck out, as quickly as you dared. Illusions to cover sound were much harder, but it would at least muffle any noise you made, and you exited the shrine at a fast walk. Speaking of which, you should probably help out Sumi before this Reimu decided to take action. Especially since that might happen once the visitor left, which you suspected could be very soon.

Outside, Sumireko was handling herself pretty well. Unlike when they'd fought before, she wasn't letting Kasen get close, using a combination of conjuration and telekinesis to batter the youkai from a distance with a combination of road signs, debris, and even a telephone pole. Unfortunately, the youkai was proving resilient, and while battered and annoyed, didn't look to be seriously injured. Sumireko was also being distracted by the handful of animals Kasen had... tamed? Summoned? Whatever. Point is, she was also being attacked by an eagle, tiger, and dragon, and had to split her focus by turns.

I'm back. We need to move.

Did you enjoy your tour? Was it the uplifting spiritual experience- Sumi flinched as a stray shot struck her.you were hoping for?

You grinned. It couldn't be going that badly if she was this sarcastic. Nah. Though maybe I'd have dropped some money if they'd had a gift shop.

If you want a souvenir that badly, I'm sure I can lure one of these animals your way.

I've always wanted my own dragon. After a moment you sobered up. Seriously though, this isn't just one youkai. I heard a couple of them talking inside the shrine, and it sounds like a whole plan to get rid of you.

Seriously? It was just an experiment! Just what is their problem?

Look at the bright side, Sumi, you've achieved the number one spot at last! You're Gensokyo's single most hated human! That takes talent!

Shut up and help me, Greg! This is harder than it looks!

Okay then. If she was using your actual name, not to mention implying she needed help, this was serious. You were still hidden from the youkai and her pets, but you'd need to be careful; animals did have better senses, and your veil was primarily about blocking sight, not sound and smell. That said, surprise was still a pretty potent weapon.

[-] You were pretty sure those bandages on Kasen's arm were a binding of some sort. If you transformed them into something else, she might have bigger problems than you.
[-] Animal minds were pretty simple. If you made them think Kasen was Sumireko and vice versa, they'd probably maul the youkai for you.
[-] Sumireko does have the strongest magic here, you just need to lure Kasen into it. All you actually need here is a subtle illusion to get her to dodge the wrong way.
[?] Write in?

--ALSO--

How far does this need to go?

[-] Capture. Kasen's already worn down, and she at least knows something about this youkai plan. Youkai might not care about hostages, but maybe this one will care about interrogation.
[-] Incapacitation. Kasen can fly, has trained mystic-ish animals that can hunt, and is clearly an enemy. Disabling her would make it much easier to make a clean getaway.
[-] Distraction. If you can just get you and Sumireko out of the immediate vicinity, you can get her under a veil and the two of you can just run for it.
[X] Sumireko does have the strongest magic here, you just need to lure Kasen into it. All you actually need here is a subtle illusion to get her to dodge the wrong way.

[x] Distraction. If you can just get you and Sumireko out of the immediate vicinity, you can get her under a veil and the two of you can just run for it.
[x] Sumireko does have the strongest magic here, you just need to lure Kasen into it. All you actually need here is a subtle illusion to get her to dodge the wrong way.

[x] Distraction. If you can just get you and Sumireko out of the immediate vicinity, you can get her under a veil and the two of you can just run for it.

No need to get too caught up in the moment.
[x] Sumireko does have the strongest magic here, you just need to lure Kasen into it. All you actually need here is a subtle illusion to get her to dodge the wrong way.

[x] Distraction. If you can just get you and Sumireko out of the immediate vicinity, you can get her under a veil and the two of you can just run for it.
[x] You were pretty sure those bandages on Kasen's arm were a binding of some sort. If you transformed them into something else, she might have bigger problems than you.

[x] Distraction. If you can just get you and Sumireko out of the immediate vicinity, you can get her under a veil and the two of you can just run for it.
[x] Clearly this is a time to enlist the aid of your roach brothers to take down the aggressor
[x] Distraction... so you can find a trash pile to scuttle into
File 162026061996.png - (240.57KB, 489x376, us.png) [iqdb]
202235
[X] Sumireko does have the strongest magic here, you just need to lure Kasen into it. All you actually need here is a subtle illusion to get her to dodge the wrong way.

[x] Distraction. If you can just get you and Sumireko out of the immediate vicinity, you can get her under a veil and the two of you can just run for it.

Maybe ham it up a little if we do get caught.
[x] Sumireko does have the strongest magic here, you just need to lure Kasen into it. All you actually need here is a subtle illusion to get her to dodge the wrong way.

[x] Distraction. If you can just get you and Sumireko out of the immediate vicinity, you can get her under a veil and the two of you can just run for it.
File 162027958376.jpg - (5.80KB, 319x259, external-content_duckduckgo-1.jpg) [iqdb]
202237
[x] Sumireko does have the strongest magic here, you just need to lure Kasen into it. All you actually need here is a subtle illusion to get her to dodge the wrong way.

[x] Distraction. If you can just get you and Sumireko out of the immediate vicinity, you can get her under a veil and the two of you can just run for it.

Sumi! Charge up your best shot, I'll bait Kasen into it!

Easier said then done, I still need to fight in the meantime! Nevertheless, I could see Sumi start charging energy from the power stones she'd collected, one hand growing brighter and brighter.

There's two ways to do illusions. The easy way is to show the image directly to the target's mind, and let their subconscious do half the work for you. It takes much less energy, discipline, and skill, and what most mages rely on. But that has risks. It's useless against cameras, multiple people might see different things, and you risk tripping any mental defenses the target might have.

Alternatively, there was what you were doing right now: manipulating light to show the image you wanted. It took a lot of strength and discipline, especially at this range, and it's much harder to hide things that way, but you weren't going to bother veiling Sumireko's attack. You just needed to make Kasen dodge half a second too early.

All the same, you could help out a little while Sumi was charging. You didn't want to risk tipping off your target, but shifting around where Sumi was in the animals minds misdirected their attacks. Add in a few extra images of debris when Sumi threw things around, and Kasen herself was being a little more cautious, not rushing in to take advantage.

All the same, Sumireko's dodging was getting slower, and after about thirty seconds the energy she charged was now pooled between both hands. Whatever you're doing, do it now!

It was a simple illusion. An image of Sumireko releasing the energy overlaid on top of her, coupled with a giant beam of light towards Kasen. Bright enough to blind, extremely dangerous-looking, and as you'd hoped, Kasen threw herself to the side to avoid it.

Which is when Sumireko unleashed her actual attack, and pile-drived a youkai through two cherry trees and the side of the shrine. You stared in disbelief as your friend laughed.

"I told you!" she cried out, "Humanity doesn't need to fear youkai any more!"

Sumi! Get down here and let me veil you!, you thought at her. There were other youkai in there!

In a moment. Veil me when I say the word.

As we spoke (well, thought at each other), two figures came out of the shrine. One was walking casually out the front door, while the red and white shrine maiden was swearing bloody murder and flying directly at Sumi.

As the Remiu started summoning amulets and orbs, Sumireko just smirked at her. "There's another thing you didn't consider! How can you trap what you can't catch? How many youkai can teleport across the continent? Now witness the power of a high-school girl!"

Now!

You threw out a flash of light, and threw the veil over Sumireko.

Reimu screamed in frustration. The other figure calmly stood and looked at where you and Sumireko were hidden under your veil. With all three eyes.

"Satori!", Reimu screamed, "Where did she go?!"

Oh. Oh no. This was an illusion meant to hide you from sight. You'd put a lot of effort into fooling enhanced youkai senses, and it was perfectly clear you had Reimu fooled, but the veil didn't hide your thoughts. It wouldn't hide you from a mind-reader. If this Satori was in league with whatever Reimu and Kasen had cooked up, you were history.

Satori looked directly at you and smiled. "I don't know."

"Don't tell me you didn't read her mind! You always do! She broke my shrine! Tell me or-"

"You'll do your youkai extermination act on me." Satori laughed, dry and humorless. "Reimu. I don't know, because she didn't know. The only place in Gensokyo she's ever seen is your shrine, and she random long-distance teleported. She could be anywhere. You'd have better luck asking the gap youkai."

"Yukari only shows up when it's inconvenient! Agh! Just go away and be annoying somewhere else!" Remiu flew back into the shrine, and after a moment you could hear more yelling. It was hard to make out from this distance, but you could hear "useless hermit" and "going to pay for this". Satori just smirked.

You breathed a sigh of relief, but noticed Sumireko was still tense.

You put a hand on your friend's shoulder. Are you alright? You're not hurt, are you?

Nothing serious, just... she can't see us, right? It feels like she's looking right at me.

"I am.", Satori said. "Sumireko. Gregory. The three of us should talk."

Ah.

[...] To be continued.

Second half of the update will come in a day or so.
Friendly protip:

Dialogue tags are usually only preceded by a comma inside the quotes.

Example:

"A cockroach," Sumireko said, watching yet another emerge from nowhere.

Exceptions:

"A cockroach..." Sumireko muttered, unsure if she wasn't just seeing things.

"A cockroach?" Sumireko pondered, curious as to why she was seeing so many lately.

"A cockroach!" Sumireko yelped, feeling it crawling in places she'd prayed bugs didn't know how to get into.
>>202238
I did not enjoy this reference.
>>202239
I don't enjoy Sumireko, but there's nothing else alive on this Mongolian shadow puppet board.
>>202240
I DO enjoy sumireko, and there's only a little else alive on this east Indian variety channel board.
File 16203719098.png - (75.34KB, 292x612, ThGKSatori.png) [iqdb]
202242
[...] (No active choice)

The three of you vacated the area under a veil before getting to any serious discussion. A few minutes later, you were in a forest, and you swapped the invisibility veil for an area-of-effect notice me not charm. As soon as that was up, Sumireko promptly rounded on Satori.

"Why should we trust you?"

What? Was she trying to piss off a potential ally? "Because she hasn't attacked us? And could have blown our cover to Reimu but didn't?"

"She's a mind-reader! Why would she need to talk to us at all? She has to be up to something."

"Damn it, Sumi, what's your problem?"

Satori just looked amused. "She's scared because last time she was here, my sister frightened her."

"I'm wasn't scared, just... surprised."

I wish I had a picture of Satori's expression, to put in the dictionary under 'condescending'. Come to think of it, was that how Sumireko had lost her phone?

"Yes," Satori answered my thoughts. "Koishi was happy to finally run into someone who had one. No, that's not common in Gensokyo."

"That doesn't answer anything! Why did she attack me?"

Gee, if only someone had been properly concerned about youkai attacking at the drop of a hat before jumping over.

Satori looked at you, smirked, and returned her attention to Sumireko. "I'm pretty sure in Gensokyo it's just the long version of saying hello."

Sumireko shot you a dirty look, as Satori continued. "But to actually answer the question, Koishi attacked because she was trying to fulfill the urban legend she was given. Her particular legend is the one about Mary, and she'd been trying to act it out for some time."

Wait, you knew that one. It was about a lost doll calling the little girl that had owned it. Even though it was impossible, this happened several times, with the doll informing the owner of its location each time. And each time that location was closer. Until the last time, when...

Actually, that gave you an idea. Satori then glanced at you and had to suppress another laugh, which irritated Sumireko, but also let you know you had a receptive audience. It probably wasn't a good idea, but you were good enough with illusions to use them for sounds. And in particular, you could make one that whispered into Sumi's ear, "I'm right behind you."

The resulting scream was legendary. Sumireko blasted the area behind her with telekinesis, looked around in a panic for a second or two when that didn't connect with anything, and slowly realized what had just happened. (Granted, you and Satori both laughing uproariously probably gave it away.) Sumireko then knocked you into a tree with a blast of telekinesis, which was painful, kind-of deserved, and absolutely worth it. It was a good thing your notice-me-not charm was strong.

"Anyway," Satori fake coughed, "Koishi's behavior is actually the point here."

"That the average youkai is a psychopath?" Sumireko snapped.

"No. It's that the urban legends can change youkai. Koishi's third eye is closed. She shut it to avoid reading minds, but that act cost her her emotions, and even the ability of other people to register her presence." Satori glanced at Sumireko and nodded. "Up until she does something drastic to get their attention. Even I can barely tell when she's nearby, and I can't read her mind at all."

What? Why would she do that? Heck, why would anyone give up that level of mind reading, even if the emotional cost wasn't in play? You had a little mental ability yourself, but being able to read minds at will would be so much better.

"You don't understand the cost. People hate and fear someone who could easily find out their darkest secrets."

"That can't be everyone," you protested. "I mean, I don't have anything to hide."

Satori gave you a piercing stare. "Don't you, Roach?"

Damn it. At least she didn't know the full details of- wait, don't think about it! Satori held the stare until you looked away, reveling in your discomfort. "Indeed."

"I get it." Sumireko said. "You want us to help you start a new rumor. One that will somehow restore Koishi's emotions and third eye to normal."

"Exactly. And in return, I can ensure the two of you make it home safely."

"And if we refuse?"

"Then you're welcome to wander around Gensokyo until other youkai find you."

[-] A guarantee of a way home, plus someone actually working to help you? How hard can starting a rumor be?
[-] You'll take your chances. (Please include a write-in of your preferred next step.)
[X] A guarantee of a way home, plus someone actually working to help you? How hard can starting a rumor be?

This requires 2 steps:

1. Find Koishi
2. Heal Koishi
3. Keep Koishi healed

Rumors of a specialized ritual or a location where you can find Koishi, or at least locate her. A place rumored to reconnect long-lost connections between people. Especially damaged families. Healing Koishi is trickier.

What kind of rumor is needed to heal someone who willingly mutilated themselves, closing up their own eye? Perhaps we can visit Eirin for healing potions and surgery? She *was* the one to
heal things like 'mortal lifespan'.
[x] Starting a rumor where? Back home? Between the trees here? Online on a Qashqai animal husbandry discussion board?
- [x] Maybe we could make a more informed decision if we weren't in the middle of the woods where nobody will ever find our bodies.
[x] A guarantee of a way home, plus someone actually working to help you? How hard can starting a rumor be?

Always prepare for the worst case scenario...
[x] A guarantee of a way home, plus someone actually working to help you? How hard can starting a rumor be?
[x] You'll take your chances. We can't fully commit to something we don't understand how to do yet - but we'll keep what we talked about a secret. If we're able to help, you'll notice.
-[x] Find the red-white on our terms. She's firmly on the human side and may beat us up, but it's important to get to her and assist her. We help resolve the incident, she sends us back in one piece.

It's WAY more sane a plan than trusting a youkai not to kill us. So long as we hold Sumi back from saying more dumb shit, that is.
>>202247
Oh, and also ask two things. Things get kind of grim from here.

>Can youkai be permanently changed by Urban Legends? As in, if that kind of rumor spreads, will Koishi be able to open her third eye and keep it open?
>If youkai can be permanently changed like that for some reason. Doesn't manipulating things like that count as an attack if the target is unaware of it? What's to stop the others from attempting the same thing - changing other youkai using the power of Urban Legends under the veil of deception, making sure none of them get caught?
[X] A guarantee of a way home, plus someone actually working to help you? How hard can starting a rumor be?

I don't know if she'd want her third eye returned to "normal". Considering the lengths she went to disable it in the first place, she might do something even more drastic if it goes back to how it was, but unfucked emotions and perceivability, sure
[x] A guarantee of a way home, plus someone actually working to help you? How hard can starting a rumor be?

I trust Satori to not devour us.
[x] A guarantee of a way home, plus someone actually working to help you? How hard can starting a rumor be?

This is entirely because I want to get involved with Koishi
File 162045287240.jpg - (53.25KB, 474x387, external-content_duckduckgo.jpg) [iqdb]
202252
[x] A guarantee of a way home, plus someone actually working to help you? How hard can starting a rumor be?

It sounds reasonable enough to you. You glance over at Sumireko to see her reaction, and after a moment, she gives you a nod. After another moment, you realize that the whole wordless agreement thing would have been way more subtle with literally anyone else in Gensokyo.

"Indeed," Satori said. "But I'm glad you agree."

It was just as well you didn't have much in the way of misgivings. Though the ones you did have still needed to be asked.

"So how exactly do these urban legends work?"

Satori looked at you flatly for a moment, her expression slowly changing to surprised. "It's your incident. You mean you don't actually know?"

Sumireko coughed. "What Greg and I actually did was using our world's power stones as the Occult Balls. The goal of that was to transport youkai over so we could study them and learn more about Gensokyo. The urban legends are more of a byproduct than anything else. "

You snapped your fingers. "Power bleed-off. It has to be. The Occult Balls radiate magic. They had to, they were created from our world's sources of magic. Except all that power has to actually go somewhere."

"And magic likes stories," Sumireko finished. "That's really what an urban legend is, after all. A story about magic that's survived through the ages."

You nodded. That was good as far as it went, but there was a bigger problem. "But there has to be dozens, if not hundreds of urban legends. Which ones does the magic take hold of, and how does it actually attach to the youkai here?"

Sumireko shrugged helplessly, and the two of you looked at Satori, who didn't meet your gaze. "I don't know. I live a solitary life away from most of Gensokyo. If not for Koishi and Rin telling me of the happenings here on the surface, I may not have discovered the urban legend incident until after it had concluded. We'll need to conduct some research."

Sumi shook her head. "You mean the two of you will need to conduct research. Because that means talking to the youkai directly affected by this incident. The same youkai out to get me personally."

Now Satori met her stare. "Gregory's illusions are perfectly capable of disguising you."

"Sure. Because it's not like we haven't already encountered a youkai trivially capable of seeing through illusions. A way home doesn't help if we're already dead!"

"They wouldn't-" Satori stopped, frustrated. "With Koishi's third eye closed, I am the only youkai in Gensokyo capable of reading your mind to bypass any illusions."

"So you're the only mind reader? Fine, but what about enhanced senses? Or, some form of light control, or lie detection, or any number of things?"

"Are you that helpless? One would think someone who dared to start an incident in Gensokyo wouldn't be such a coward."

Well, you didn't need to be a mind-reader to see that Sumireko was about to snap back. And even if Satori seemed remarkably levelheaded compared to most youkai, you'd rather stop this before it became a fight. "Why don't we sleep on the problem?"

That just redirected their ire in your direction, so you hurried to explain. "I'm serious! It's already the middle of the night anyway, and with a few more wards this should be a safe enough spot to sleep. Considering two of us are humans and I can disguise Satori as one, we'll have a much easier time avoiding notice if we act during the day, when normal people are awake. Not to mention, I think we could all use some rest."

Sumireko still looked like she wanted to snap at you, but Satori nodded. "The idea is sensible. It won't be the most comfortable night, but needs must."

You turned to your friend, silently pleading, and Sumi relented. "Fine, fine. We'll figure this out in the morning."

Well, that's one problem averted. The next few minutes are spent in silence, with you setting up your tent, your spare sleeping bag going to Satori, and Sumireko electing to just transfigure herself a bed. (Which, naturally ends up being way more comfortable than your sleeping bag. Alas.) Although come to think of it, you don't need to turn in just yet.

--CHOOSE THREE--

[-] Talk to Sumireko about Gensokyo and getting home. She's prickly and more than a little arrogant, but she's worried, and she's still your friend. It would be a good idea to be a listening ear and offer her a little hope.
[-] Talk to Sumireko about the Occult Balls and urban legends. You're both good with magical theory; the two of you can probably figure something out.
[-] Talk to Satori about Gensokyo. Specifically, what youkai are around that have abilities that could help and aren't interested in killing you? While you could leave the planning until morning, getting the lay of the land would help a lot.
[-] Talk to Satori about her and Koishi. If you're going to help (and let's face it, there's no "if" about it), you should get to know the sisters a little better.
[-] Enchant a minor magical item. You know it's only a matter of time before more youkai come after you and Sumireko. Whether it's a disguise charm or a one-off surprise attack, that little extra trick could make all the difference.
[-] Reinforce the wards on the clearing. Having this space as a home base to come back to would be great, and you've got the time and ability to make it virtually undetectable.
[?] Write-in?

So, just a quick note, you will get to select three activities here, but that may get spread out over one to three updates depending on which ones you select.
[x] Talk to Satori about Gensokyo. Specifically, what youkai are around that have abilities that could help and aren't interested in killing you? While you could leave the planning until morning, getting the lay of the land would help a lot.
[x] Talk to Sumireko about the Occult Balls and urban legends. You're both good with magical theory; the two of you can probably figure something out.
[x] Enchant a minor magical item. You know it's only a matter of time before more youkai come after you and Sumireko. Whether it's a disguise charm or a one-off surprise attack, that little extra trick could make all the difference.
[x] Talk to Satori about her and Koishi. If you're going to help (and let's face it, there's no "if" about it), you should get to know the sisters a little better.
[x] Talk to Sumireko about the Occult Balls and urban legends. You're both good with magical theory; the two of you can probably figure something out.
[x] Enchant a minor magical item. You know it's only a matter of time before more youkai come after you and Sumireko. Whether it's a disguise charm or a one-off surprise attack, that little extra trick could make all the difference.
[x] Talk to Satori about Gensokyo. Specifically, what youkai are around that have abilities that could help and aren't interested in killing you? While you could leave the planning until morning, getting the lay of the land would help a lot.
[x] Talk to Sumireko about the Occult Balls and urban legends. You're both good with magical theory; the two of you can probably figure something out.
[x] Enchant a minor magical item. You know it's only a matter of time before more youkai come after you and Sumireko. Whether it's a disguise charm or a one-off surprise attack, that little extra trick could make all the difference.
[x] Talk to Sumireko about Gensokyo and getting home. She's prickly and more than a little arrogant, but she's worried, and she's still your friend. It would be a good idea to be a listening ear and offer her a little hope.

[-] Talk to Sumireko about the Occult Balls and urban legends. You're both good with magical theory; the two of you can probably figure something out.

[-] Enchant a minor magical item. You know it's only a matter of time before more youkai come after you and Sumireko. Whether it's a disguise charm or a one-off surprise attack, that little extra trick could make all the difference.
[x] Talk to Satori about Gensokyo. Specifically, what youkai are around that have abilities that could help and aren't interested in killing you? While you could leave the planning until morning, getting the lay of the land would help a lot.
[x] Talk to Satori about her and Koishi. If you're going to help (and let's face it, there's no "if" about it), you should get to know the sisters a little better.
[x] Enchant a minor magical item. You know it's only a matter of time before more youkai come after you and Sumireko. Whether it's a disguise charm or a one-off surprise attack, that little extra trick could make all the difference.

Disregard cockroach, acquire monkey
[X] Talk to Sumireko about Gensokyo and getting home. She's prickly and more than a little arrogant, but she's worried, and she's still your friend. It would be a good idea to be a listening ear and offer her a little hope.
[X] Talk to Satori about her and Koishi. If you're going to help (and let's face it, there's no "if" about it), you should get to know the sisters a little better.
[X] Enchant a minor magical item. You know it's only a matter of time before more youkai come after you and Sumireko. Whether it's a disguise charm or a one-off surprise attack, that little extra trick could make all the difference.

Keeping mobile and keeping relationships are our best bet for survival.
[x] Enchant a minor magical item (6 votes)

As the others started to turn in for the night, you held up a finger. "Sumireko, hold on a minute."

"What is it now?"

Right. She wasn't happy with you at the moment. Well, she wasn't happy with the world in general at the moment, but you in particular were intruding, so you should at least try to sound apologetic about it. "Kasen collected the occult balls before, right? So you must have won one off of the fight with her earlier!"

"Yes," she ground out. "Is there a reason this can't wait until morning?"

"I know the youkai have been using those things to power up their own magic attacks."

"Spell cards," Satori called out from her sleeping bag. "They're called spell cards."

You rolled your eyes. "The point is, we don't have to use it for that. What if I used it as the power source for an enchantment?"

"It would make it much stronger, and it should actually be more compatible considering the source of their magic is from our world in the first place. But wait, we designed the Occult Balls to be difficult to hold on to. If I were to lose a fight, I'd lose the ball and any enchantments attached to it. On the other hand, if I win enough fights, I get sent home temporarily... and then the balls get scattered anyway."

"Which is why it would be a non-combat enchantment. A disguise, or a veil, or maybe teleportation. Something that helps you avoid fights in the first place."

Sumireko brightened. She gestured, and the purple globe materialized in the air, glowing gently. "That could actually work. And I've got a bracelet here that I haven't really done anything with."

She levitates the bracelet over to you, and you start reaching out to connect to the occult ball's power.

[?] What kind of item did you have in mind?

-- Current vote counts --
[-] Talk to Sumireko about the Occult Balls (4 votes)
[-] Talk to Satori about Gensokyo (3 votes)
[-] Talk to Satori about her and Koishi (3 votes)
[-] Talk to Sumireko about getting home. (2 votes)
[-] Reinforce wards on the clearing (0 votes)
[X] Psychic Flashbang, Illusory Light and Sound and a psychic attack.

[X] Talk to Satori about Gensokyo
[X] Psychic Flashbang, Illusory Light and Sound and a psychic attack.
[X] Talk to Sumireko about the Occult Balls
[X] Talk to Satori about Gensokyo

Looks like I checked back on this site just in time to catch a live one.
>What kind of item did you have in mind?

Something.... Lewd
[X] Psychic Flashbang, Illusory Light and Sound and a psychic attack.
[x] enchant deez nuts lmao
>>202264
OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH
[x] Some sort of repeatable short-range teleportation
[x] Talk to Satori about Gensokyo
[x] Talk to Satori about her and Koishi
[X] Psychic Flashbang, Illusory Light and Sound and a psychic attack.
File 162062145568.jpg - (335.84KB, 1280x800, external-content_duckduckgo.jpg) [iqdb]
202268
[X] Psychic Flashbang, Illusory Light and Sound and a psychic attack.

[X] Talk to Sumireko about the Occult Balls.

You reach out to the occult ball, and magic fills you. Your exhaustion just drops away as images flit through your mind. Sand and stones, thousands of slaves straining to move each block. Memories of prisoners and Pharaohs, one the slave, one the master, both figments of time, shadows that lasted half a century at most before disappearing while the pyramids endured. Pharaohs came and went, but the monument remained. And while knowledge of magic itself has come and gone with the ages, it was always there, waiting. Waiting for someone who knew to reach out and touch it.

You can hear something in the background, a discordant noise that's not just the wind. You ignore it as unimportant. With power like this, how could you possibly hide? Would you veil the sun because of how ants might react to it? No! Let them scurry and hide from your presence. The unrelenting light and heat of the sun, the unyielding weight of stone carried by the blood of thousands, bound together by the inevitability of time. You existed before these youkai, and you will stand long after their deaths. This is fact, and nothing Gensokyo does can change it.

Something hits you hard, and you're sent flying, landing hard on your back. You prop yourself up on your elbows to see various conjured items dissipating. A couple road signs, a traffic light, a slab of concrete pavement... Sumireko is breathing hard, right hand glowing and pointed in your direction. Over to the side, you can see Satori staring at you wordlessly.

"Sumi?"

She teleports and in the blink of an eye, you're enveloped in something halfway between a tackle and a hug. "What do you think you were doing, Roach?!"

"I don't... what just happened?"

She grabbed you and shook you by the shoulders. "Greg! Where are we?"

"Gensokyo. Forest of... something or other."

"How did we get here?"

"Do you want the accurate answer or the one that won't get me slapped?" She glared at you and raised a hand, and you hurriedly answered, "The tanuki laid a trap with that fake power stone!"

"And what were you doing just now?"

"I was about to enchant the bracelet using the..." Wait. Your right fist was clenched around something, and you open it up to reveal the bracelet you'd been talking about. Which is glowing. "What was that just now?"

She sighed, letting go of you, and you sat up. "You'd grabbed the bracelet and were staring into the ball. I thought you'd spaced out, up until the point you started levitating."

"What? You've seen me try levitation, Sumi, I can't do that."

She glared at you. "And that's how I knew something was wrong. You started levitating and chanting nonsense. You weren't responding. When you started glowing I decided to knock some sense into you. Which reminds me..."

Uh-oh. Your attempt to dodge is too slow, and her slap leaves one ear ringing. Which is only amplified as she resumes yelling at you. "What were you thinking?! Just reaching out for the magic without at least checking for traps first! That youkai must have expected I'd beat her and put a curse on it!"

"Unless Kasen spent a few centuries in Egypt, I doubt that. That was... that was like a vision. Of the pyramids and everything they represent." Even now, just looking at the occult ball gives you a sense of sand and hot air.

Sumireko freezes. "I... had a few of those while collecting the power stones from earth. You have to know what a landmark represents to draw power from it. But you've handled them before with no issue. You've even enchanted with them before with nothing like that. Why would this happen now?"

You run your mind through your past interactions with the occult balls, and it's just like Sumireko said. Nothing like this had happened before. You look down at the bracelet you're still holding (it's still glowing), and place it gently on the ground in front of you. "I have no idea. Also, I'm pretty sure I've done something to this bracelet, but I'm not sure what."

Sumireko levitates it in front of her and stares at it. About a minute passes in silence as she tries to unravel the enchantment, and eventually she gives up and shoves it in a pocket. "I think whatever vision the power stone showed you was transferred to this bracelet. I know I'm not wearing it."

"Sorry," you say, sheepish. The bracelet wasn't that special, but it was nice, and you knew Sumireko had liked it. "I could try agai-"

"No! Not until we know what happened. It's too risky."

Satori spoke up, and you flinched. You'd forgotten she was there. "Isn't it obvious? Earth's artifact is reacting to the magic of Gensokyo."

"What? My magic has nothing to do with Gensokyo."

Satori shot you a look you couldn't really identify. "The changed variable isn't you. It's your location."

This was the first time you'd handled an occult ball in Gensokyo, but... "Why would that matter?"

Sumireko put it together first. "Because magic is about life. It's about stories, experiences, struggles, emotions. The history, for lack of a better word, of whatever the magical thing is, whether that's an object or a youkai. While they were on earth, the power stones were directly connected to the actual landmarks they represent. But now, the earth and its magic is more distant, and instead the power stones are surrounded by the foreign magic saturating Gensokyo. The occult ball must be reaching out, trying to re-establish the familiar."

"Right. Being in Gensokyo stirs up the magic of the occult balls." Magic tends to react to other magic, whether that's productively or explosively. It was actually a feature of Sumireko's original design for the balls, but you hadn't considered what the effect would be like in practice. "Wait. You're the one that's been carrying the occult ball, and you have more of a magical connection than I have. Why weren't you affected?"

"I think you mean more of a magical resistance." The tone of Sumireko's voice and the look on her face tried for smug, but ended up just being wry and a little tired. "Also, I've only been carrying the thing, I haven't tried to use it for anything yet. The better question is why the youkai here aren't affected by it. If anything, close proximity to an active Gensokyo magic user should cause even more of a reaction."

You suddenly feel faint. You know exactly what that reaction was. "Like the persistent manifestation of an urban legend. Sumi, for a brief moment there I didn't know where, who, or even what I was. If the occult balls have anything like this effect on youkai-"

Sumireko shook her head violently. "That isn't possible. I was exposed for much longer creating the occult balls, and I use the power stones as a source for my magic on a regular basis! And we considered cross-contamination! I checked the occult balls against each other, probed them with each others' magic, and nothing like this happened. And even I somehow missed something, I made sure the occult balls would seek out the strongest youkai around, and they'd be the ones most resistant to any sort of mental effect!"

"Initially. But what about with continual exposure over time, both passively and as an active source of magic in combat?"

Sumireko kept shaking her head, went pale and took a step backwards. "That shouldn't make a difference. It can't."

"Even if-"

She hurriedly cut you off. "I-I'm going to bed Greg. We're both going to need our sleep if we're going to escape from here."

Despite her words, you didn't think either of you would have an easy time falling asleep tonight.

-- Now what? (Votes have been reset)--

[?] Say something to Satori. (Write-in.)
[?] Follow Sumireko, say something to her. (Write-in)
[-] Go to bed. You can figure out strategy and such in the morning.
[x] Go to bed. You can figure out strategy and such in the morning.
fuck you bed NOW
[X] Go to bed. You can figure out strategy and such in the morning.

Aside from maybe apologizing for the trouble we've caused (which wizards aren't usually in the habit of doing) and bidding Satori a good night, I'm not sure what we'd tell her.

In Sumi's case, I believe it'd be best to just allow her to get some rest and get her thoughts together before we broach this subject again.
>>202268
[X] Say something to Satori. (Write-in.)
will u be my fwend
[x] Go to bed. You can figure out strategy and such in the morning.

bang Sumireko
[x] Go to bed. You can figure out strategy and such in the morning.
Be sure to be polite to the very powerful youkai you are sleeping near.
[x] Go to bed. You can figure out strategy and such in the morning.
[x] Go to bed. You can figure out strategy and such in the morning.

>pyramids
>slaves
Oh, dear
[x] Go to bed. You can figure out strategy and such in the morning.

You look over to where Sumireko had run off, then back to where Satori was still standing. Were the youkai here already changed in some fashion by your occult ball scheme? Was that why they'd trapped you in Gensokyo? For that matter, had something like that already affected Koishi? You don't think so, you sure hope not... but you can't be sure. And neither was Sumireko, obviously.

In the end, you have no idea what to say, and so you say nothing. You all retreat to your respective sleeping bags (or conjured bed in Sumireko's case), and attempt to get some sleep.

You find yourself tossing and turning for a long time. An hour? Two? You're tempted to check your phone to find out, but you don't actually want to know. When sleep does come, it comes suddenly, and you dream. Not one consistent scene, just snatches of memories.

You asking your father about your mother, what she was like and why she left. You were too young to remember her, there were no pictures, and your father never answered when you asked. You never did find out why.

The first manifestation of your magic, disappointment over a bad grade in history. Wishing with all your heart that you'd gotten something better, that you hadn't disappointed him, waiting for the other metaphorical shoe to fall (not literal, he never laid a hand on you), and then... he didn't react. A quick "Good job, son", and when he hands the grade back, you see it reading 95 instead of 73.

Experimenting. Trying to turn an apple into something else, concentrating, focusing with all your might, and nothing. No change, not even an illusion, but the changed grade is sitting there, mocking you. It wasn't a mistake. You summed up the points deducted, checked the grade online, both came out to the original 73. So why?

There were a handful of other incidents through your childhood. A vase suddenly unbroken, chores appearing done and giving you the time to actually do them... the only real thread was the magic showing up to get you out of trouble, but it was never predictable, and never repeatable. You tried getting in trouble once or twice, to see if it would cause the magic to show up for you, but that never worked.

Meeting Sumireko. She came in as a transfer student to your middle school, acting all aloof and superior. She was left alone for a while, and you were happy to leave things that way. Up until show and tell. She boasted about her ability as a magician, summoned a handful of bugs, and talked about her drive to discover real magic... The kids laughed. They stopped laughing when she set the centipedes on them.

She got detention. You punched a random kid to get one too. Writing lines next to her later, you told her you believed her. You told her about the grades, the vase, the other incidents, and you asked her how. It got her interest immediately, the two of you studied together.

Studying the same books Sumireko had tried, the same rituals and spells she'd attempted. Maybe one in four attempts actually lead anywhere, and the magic you succeeded at was completely different from her spells, but it was progress. You eventually got it to work on command, but your magic just seemed to work better around her. The two of you never did figure out why.

Walking down the street a few months ago, by chance seeing a woman vanish into thin air. Telling Sumireko, staking out the spot, and after weeks, seeing a different woman appear from nothing. Sumi figured it out, realized it was travel between worlds; an entire other world where magic existed. Realizing you couldn't cross over to follow. Coming up with the occult balls, a way to bring the other magic users to you.

Battles over the skyline. A magician, an oni, a phoenix, a tankui... and once a completely non-magical Buddha statue. (You're not sure how that last one happened.) The visitors always fought, sometimes for fun, sometimes in anger. Had they expected something else, or maybe someone else? Sumireko wielding all the magic of earth the two of you had gathered, sometimes winning, sometimes losing, always learning, figuring out how to traverse the barrier in dreams, but not in truth. She was pretty sure the occult balls could break it, but neither of you wanted to unleash the youkai on earth.

A hand on your shoulder, and you wake with a start. Satori looking at you, face unreadable as always. It takes a moment for you to get your bearings (you don't usually dream like that), and when you do, that doesn't exactly calm you down. Is she going to continue the discussion from last night? Her hand is still on your shoulder, she looks like she's about to say something serious.

"It's morning. There's a lake a few minutes from here, you should wash up."

She gives you a wry smile, and pushes your shoulder gently, exiting the tent. What?

A few minutes of walking later, you'd found the lake. And if your reflection is anything to go by, Satori wasn't wrong. Running a hand through your (surprisingly dirty) blond hair, you sigh and transfigure a nearby rock into some soap. And, on second thought, set up a few wards for privacy.

A few minutes later, you were at least back within a standard deviation of being clean. Right, you should get back. What's first?

[-] You should figure out what the plan is going forwards.
[-] You do need to figure out the consequences of the urban legend incident.
[-] Hey, take out your phone.
[x] send dick pics

>>202272
>bang Sumireko
that's how you end up with a roach infestation my dude
[X] Hey, take out your phone.
[x] send dick pics

This is my actual sincere vote.
[X] Hey, take out your phone.
[x] Hey, take out your phone.
And experience the joy of having no cell service in Gensokyo.
[x] Hey, take out your phone.

Okay, fine. Let's go with the mystery choice.
>>202276
[X] send dick pics
to satori though
[x] Hey, take out your phone.
[X] Hey, take out your phone.
[x] Hey, take out your phone.
File 162070490297.jpg - (31.17KB, 474x375, external-content_duckduckgo.jpg) [iqdb]
202287
[x] Hey, take out your phone.

You have your phone in your hand without thinking, and... why did you take this thing out again? Come to think of it, why did you even bother bringing it to Gensokyo in the first place? There's no cell service here.

Ring, ring!

You glance at your phone again and shake your head. It sounded like it came from your phone, but that's not your ringtone. That's not even a ringtone available on your phone, it's what an old-fashioned telephone ringing sounds like. There's something else out there.

I'm near the trees!

Now that you're listening for it, you're certain it's coming from elsewhere. You know illusions, you're used to looking past the obvious for what's really there, and you can tell there's something wrong. Your eyes tell you there's nothing there, but your instincts are screaming, there's something powerful, and it's nearby.

I'm by the lake!

You spin around and scan the lake. Nothing on the surface, nothing under the surface, nothing flying above. No sign of illusion, no trace of magic that you can tell. Wait, didn't Satori say something about a presence that couldn't be registe-

I'm right behind you!

You turn around and are confronted by green eyes an inch from your face.

You did not scream. You emphatically did not scream, and did not jump. The only reason you moved at all was because backing away from that knife was common sense. And the only reason you made any sound at all is because your foot slipped and you ended up in the lake.

That's your story and you're sticking with it.

"Yay! Mary worked again!"

Now you can see her. Green hair, green eyes, and a closed third eye. Koishi is floating and waving her arms cheerfully with a huge smile on her face. It would be adorable if she wasn't holding a knife. "Damn it, Koishi," you groan.

"Oh! You know my name!" She floats forwards, once again barely a few inches away. "Have we met? I don't think I scared you before. Did Mary tell you about me?"

You step backwards reflexively and stumble into deeper water. You really wish she'd at least acknowledge that personal space was a thing. "What? No! I heard about you from-" wait, is it a good idea to mention Satori? "-from my friend. You scared her too."

"Wait! I think I have seen you before! One second!" She zooms off, and you lose track of her almost instantly.

What on earth was that about? The phone scaring thing at least made sense if this Mary has to do with her urban legend, but-

Here, hold this!

Something's crawling on your head, and you yelp and duck underwater, swatting at the insect. You break the surface and see a bug floating nearby.

"I knew it!" Koishi exclaims, floating above your head. "You're Roach!"

How could she- she's holding Sumireko's old phone. That damn video. Damn it. "Gregory. My name is Gregory."

"What? Roach is a way better name. You should be true to yourself. And also say hi to Wriggle."

Who on earth was Wriggle? Did someone else get stuck with an unfortunate nickname? You shook your head. Not important, and also you'd rather discuss literally anything else. "Koishi, why are you even here?"

"I'm looking for my sister! Okuu told me she left the underground the other day and she hasn't come back. She's kinda strong, so I'm not too worried, but I want to know what she's up to. She never leaves. Except that time she played detective, but I don't think anyone asked her to investigate this."

You wade back to shore as Koishi continues flying around. "Investigate what, the urban legend incident?"

"Exactly! It's a great chance to play around with danmaku and Miss Mary! I'd play with you, but you're really weak. It wouldn't be any fun."

Ouch. She's not wrong, but still. "Koishi, who is Mary?"

"Miss Mary was a doll who was forgotten. She liked to make phone calls. I can see why."

You stare at her blankly. Okay, different line of questioning. "She hasn't changed how you think or act, has she?"

"No? Why would you care? Did my sister put you up to this?"

You hesitate, and Koishi pounces. Literally and figuratively. "She did! Wow, I didn't think she'd ever make a human friend. And you're so weak, too!"

You'd like to dispute that, but considering she grabbed you by the shoulders then started flying higher and higher, you have bigger concerns. "Um..."

"Put him down!" Sumireko yelled, hitting Koishi with a spray of tarot cards. The cards knock her back, and Koishi drops you. Sumireko holds out a hand, and your descent abruptly stops.

"Oh! Phone girl! You're worth playing with." Koishi fires back with a spray of heart shaped bullets. Sumireko gets hit, loses concentration, and the ground starts approaching at an alarming rate.

Come on, levitate, levitate, levitate!

You hit the ground anyway. Not fast enough to injure, and not as fast as you should have, but it does rattle you. And now Sumireko and Koishi are fighting over the lake. Great.

"I'm sorry about that. I didn't know my sister was nearby."

It was a little late for that. Hopefully only a quarter or so of Gensokyo could see the current duel.

"Koishi, stop."

Koishi completely abandons the fight in practice and flies over to Satori and hugs her. "Sister! I knew you had to be around here somewhere! What are you doing away from the Underground?"

Satori returns the hug, though less enthusiastic and looking vaguely uncomfortable. "Looking into urban legends. These two are helping me with that."

"Why? You didn't come up here for any of the other incidents. Are you up to something?"

Satori hesitates, but is saved by Sumireko flying back over. "Hey! I'm still fighting you!"

"I forfeit. You were getting boring anyway."

Sumireko is momentarily speechless, and you shake your head at her urgently. She gives you a look, but stays quiet. Meanwhile, Hurricane Koishi has returned to its original course. "You've got that guilty look, sis. Are you up to something? You're not trying to fix me again, are you?"

Wow. She hasn't even said anything yet, and you can already tell Satori's a terrible liar. She looks borderline panicked, and you speak up.

[-] "Satori saw how much fun you were having with Miss Mary, and she wanted an urban legend. It'd be a chance for her to get out, be something other than just a satori and the ruler of the underground."
[-] "I asked her to help me get an urban legend. I mean, I am kinda weak everyone here is so strong, so we thought an urban legend could help me out."
[-] "Don't you want to return to normal? Most people consider having emotions a good thing."
Oh, and just for the record,

Green text like this means Koishi is using her weird unconsciousness powers to communicate.

When people actually recognize Koishi is there and speaking, her dialogue will be normal.
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202289
>[-] "Satori saw how much fun you were having with Miss Mary, and she wanted an urban legend. It'd be a chance for her to get out, be something other than just a satori and the ruler of the underground."
Throw Satori under the bus. Proverbial, pink, red-white and/or black-white colored, free to take your pick.
>[-] "I asked her to help me get an urban legend. I mean, I am kinda weak everyone here is so strong, so we thought an urban legend could help me out."
Fearless warrior
>[-] "Don't you want to return to normal? Most people consider having emotions a good thing."
One sibling drama, potential encounters include (1) boss fight (Koishi), (1) fetch quest (Koishi) and one wall of text from Satori detailing just how much of a fuckup we are.

[x] "I asked her to help me get an urban legend. I mean, I am kinda weak everyone here is so strong, so we thought an urban legend could help me out."
PATH TOWARDS THE LEGEND
[x] "I asked her to help me get an urban legend. I mean, I am kinda weak everyone here is so strong, so we thought an urban legend could help me out."
[X] "I asked her to help me get an urban legend. I mean, I am kinda weak everyone here is so strong, so we thought an urban legend could help me out."
[X] "Satori saw how much fun you were having with Miss Mary, and she wanted an urban legend. It'd be a chance for her to get out, be something other than just a satori and the ruler of the underground."

This sounds like it would be amazing. Throwing Satori under the bus, sure, but it could be good for her as well.
Isn't it just Gregor, not Gregory?
[X] "I asked her to help me get an urban legend. I mean, I am kinda weak everyone here is so strong, so we thought an urban legend could help me out."
[-] "I asked her to help me get an urban legend. I mean, I am kinda weak everyone here is so strong, so we thought an urban legend could help me out."
[x] "Satori saw how much fun you were having with Miss Mary, and she wanted an urban legend. It'd be a chance for her to get out, be something other than just a satori and the ruler of the underground."
(As a side note, the previous anon is correct. The main character's name is Gregor, not Gregory. My bad.)

[x] "I asked her to help me get an urban legend. I mean, I am kinda weak compared to everyone here, so we thought an urban legend could help me out."

The moment the words leave your mouth, you can see Sumireko smothering giggles, and you do your best not to flinch. Satori owes you one for this. She seems to realize it too, as she shoots you a grateful look and seizes on the excuse. "Right. What Gregor said."

Koishi gives you a doubtful look. "Not that I'm arguing with the weak part, but shouldn't he train with his magician friend? Miss Mary's fun, but she didn't make me that much stronger."

Sumireko's voice oozes with false sincerity. "Oh, we tried that. It's just that he's so weak, there's nothing to work with, and Greg's getting just a little desperate."

"Yes. Desperate. That's me," you force out, grinding your teeth.

"Anyway," Satori hurriedly interjects, "I'm sure Gregor is eager to get started, and I shouldn't leave Utusho unsupervised for too long. So..."

"Don't worry, I can help! I know exactly what urban legend would be perfect for Roach!" Koishi exclaims, and just flies off.

Oh, that can't be good. "What urban legend is that?!"

She doesn't so much as slow down, but calls back, "Don't worry, you'll love it!"

A few seconds later she's just kind-of faded from your perception entirely. After a moment's hesitation worrying she'll just show up again, you glance over at Satori. "You're an absolute master of deceit, you know that?"

Satori folds her arms and frowns slightly. "Koishi is difficult to manage. She knows all of my tells, and I can't read her mind at all. Not that she was predictable even before she closed her third eye..."

Wait, is she pouting? She's totally pouting. And the frown deepens as she looks at you, which means now she's pouting about you realizing she's pouting.

That's amusing and kind of cute. Unfortunately, Sumireko is here to redirect the embarrassment. "Good thing you were here to cover for her. You had her totally sold on your weakness."

"It's called taking one for the team."

"Absolutely. Her knight in shining weakness."

"That's not even a phrase!"

"Weak rebuttal. But not as weak as-"

You hit Sumi with an illusion of getting splashed with water. About as effective as the real thing, and less effort. Unfortunately, you're severely outgunned in this sort of fight, which Sumireko proves by levitating a pool-sized body of water over your head.

"I don't suppose we could talk about this?"

Sumireko's grin is merciless. "Begging is for the weak."

One involuntary bath later, you muse it's a good thing you're practiced at using magic to dry fabric. You're going to need that ability if you want to get your clothes un-soaked some time today. Of course, Satori and Sumireko both stay dry by the simple expedient of being twelve feet off the ground. (You need to enchant yourself a flying cape like Sumi has. Next opportunity, no question.)

You're considering the best option for a counter strike (leaning towards a blinding flash of light followed by disorientation through illusions) when Satori intervenes. She seems to have recovered her usual emotionless mask. "We should get to business. Specifically, learning how to create a desirable urban legend."

"Wait, are we actually doing that?" Sumireko asked. "We need to find out if the urban legends are actually dangerous first!"

Satori shook her head. "Most of the urban legends I've seen are being used as a source of power more than anything else. Koishi is... interacting more with hers, but I believe that's mostly for the novelty of the thing."

"We still need to do research first! Maybe the powerful youkai are fine, but what about my weak illusionist here?"

Satori waved a hand. "Teasing aside, Gregor isn't outclassed by most youkai in Gensokyo. It is a risk, but a manageable one. Besides, my sister may seem flighty, but when she decides on something, she carries it out immediately. Gregor will receive an urban legend sooner or later; the only question is whether it's through our efforts or Koishi's."

"Do we know how or even if we'd be able to choose what urban legend I'd get?" you ask. If not, this might just be a mute point.

Satori nods. "There's a kappa named Nitori who faked an urban legend, but had it turn into a real one. We should be able to find her setting up shop in the human village."

"Is that our only lead?" you asked.

Satori shrugged. "It's certainly the most reliable one. The alternative would be to chase down more youkai holding occult balls and for me to read their minds. But if the creators of the urban legend incident don't know how they work, I doubt anyone here will know much more."

"Really? No youkai with some oddly specific ability that relates to the spread of rumors?"

Satori paused. "Well, there are a couple options there. There's a half-youkai in the village, Keine, whose ability involves the creation and hiding of history. And Aya is a tengu who writes a gossip rag. Which is decidedly non-magical in means, but it spreads rumors effectively."

[-] Let's start with Nitori. What she pulled off with the fake legend is the closest to the information we want.
[-] Creation and hiding of history sounds like it hits the issue at the source. Look for Keine.
[-] If you want a rumor spread, there's always some good old-fashioned yellow journalism. Let's see Aya.
[X] Creation and hiding of history sounds like it hits the issue at the source. Look for Keine.

Time to get schooled!
Yes, I only voted for this to make the pun.
[x] If you want a rumor spread, there's always some good old-fashioned yellow journalism. Let's see Aya.
[x] Let's start with Nitori. What she pulled off with the fake legend is the closest to the information we want.
[X] Let's start with Nitori. What she pulled off with the fake legend is the closest to the information we want.

Must engage in kappatalism
[x] Chase down more youkai holding occult balls and have Satori to read their minds.
DIFFICULTY: ROACH MUST DIE MODE
[X] Let's start with Nitori. What she pulled off with the fake legend is the closest to the information we want.
I like this Satori.
[x] If you want a rumor spread, there's always some good old-fashioned yellow journalism. Let's see Aya.

Aya.
[x] If you want a rumor spread, there's always some good old-fashioned yellow journalism. Let's see Aya.
bird gang bird gang get fucked turtles
[X] Let's start with Nitori. What she pulled off with the fake legend is the closest to the information we want.
turtle time
[x] If you want a rumor spread, there's always some good old-fashioned yellow journalism. Let's see Aya.

Bi
O
R d
[X] Let's start with Nitori. What she pulled off with the fake legend is the closest to the information we want.

Turtles>birds, change my mind
>>202309
turtles want assballs and that's gay af bruh
So Turtles it is then.
[x] Let's start with Nitori. What she pulled off with the fake legend is the closest to the information we want.

After a moment's thought, you figure you might as well go with Satori's original suggestion. She's the one who actually lives here, and besides, manufacturing your own urban legend is more or less the goal. Although you are going to need to prepare before you just waltz into town.

Satori nods at the thought, and Sumireko looks exasperated.

"Now I know how the teachers felt when we kept passing information with the telepathy trick," she grumbles.

Ah, whoops. Maybe you're too used to just working by thought. "Sorry, Sumi. I think we should try this Nitori first, but only after getting a disguise in order."

"What disguise? The two of you don't need one, and you can just throw a veil over me like before."

Satori coughs. "Satori are generally hated by both humans and other youkai. Continuous mind-reading is not something most people appreciate. The visit will go more smoothly if the villagers don't realize my identity."

Sumireko blinks. "Did you just refer to yourself in the third person?"

Satori sighs, and explains in a monotone. "Satori is both my name and the name of my species. Yes, it is unusual."

"Anyway," I interrupt, "maintaining a full on illusion and keeping it consistent with the person under it is a lot harder than just a veil. I should be able to keep one active, but I'm not going to be able to keep up simultaneous independent illusions all day."

Sumireko's voice was cold. "Logical, well-reasoned. Now re-explain the part where youkai trying to kill me is less important than our mind reader's social anxiety."

"Sumi, every time you've fought a youkai, you've been in that exact same outfit. And also flying. I guarantee you, if you put on a different dress and stay on the ground, nobody will give you a second glance."

"Am I really supposed to believe all these mysterious youkai powers will get fooled by a change of clothing?"

"You would be shocked at how few youkai are truly capable of subtlety," Satori said drily.
"Reimu's incident resolution strategy is to fly in the general direction of weirdness, and somehow she still keeps succeeding."

"They can't all be that stupid."

"They aren't. But few of the exceptions frequent the human village."

"Maybe you forgot in all the excitement, but I didn't expect to get stuck over here. This is the only dress I've got."

"Which is why he's offering to take you shopping to buy a new outfit," Satori said reasonably. "Come to think of it, I should get one as well."

Sumireko is suddenly thoughtful at that, and you're suddenly worried. You do have your wallet and you're not broke, but one of the few things Sumireko has in common with a sterotypical high school girl is her love of shopping. And considering Satori's a powerful youkai, her tastes are unlikely to be cheap. "Is our money even any good in Gensokyo?"

"Yes," Satori dismantled your excuse. "Most forms of money are."

"Still-"

"Come on, Greg," Sumireko pleaded. "If a new dress is going to prevent me from being ripped apart life and limb, the least you can do is help me get a good one."

You sigh. "If I say yes, can we at least get on with this?"

The terms are agreed to, and the three of you set off.

Both of your friends need an illusion for the initial shopping trip, and so you need to concentrate. Thankfully, the illusions are pretty simple; you're disguising them as girls of the same height and build, so the only real changes are their clothes, facial features, and hiding Satori's third eye. Even with those mitigating factors, an illusion that instinctively responds to someone else's actions is incredibly difficult, and by the time you make it to the village, you're feeling a little winded. On their end, Sumireko and Satori are actually talking civilly. Granted, it's mostly Sumireko drilling Satori with questions about various parts of Gensokyo and how the local magic works, but it's a huge improvement from before. Which is a bigger relief than you'd thought. Sumireko's behavior has been all over the map this morning, from protective to teasing to sulking. You expected her to be a little out of sorts after your conversation last night, but this is just weird, even for her.

That said, the calm doesn't last long, as there's fighting in the skies over the village. Marisa is flying around on her broom, firing lasers and stars while she dodges giant dinner plates thrown by a Taoist who's flying a viking ship. You stop for a minute, if only to mentally verify that sentence was accurate. Sumireko seems less affected, though she's still watching the plates in bemusement.

Satori rolls her eyes. "Don't stop. This is normal for Gensokyo."

You're still staring at the fight. "Don't take this the wrong way, but what is wrong with your country?"

Satori grabs your wrist and starts pulling you forwards. "It's a long list, and we're short on time."

Sumireko snorted. "They're probably fighting over an occult ball. Look, Marisa's using one now."

"Just keep quiet in front of anyone who might know you. This illusion doesn't change your voices."

The good thing about the fight is that the villagers are somewhat distracted, though they seemed surprisingly undisturbed by lasers and elemental blasts coming within a few feet of their roofs. Regardless, Satori leads you to an actual clothing store in short order, and Sumireko begins picking out several outfits before you can even warn her not to wander too far. Rather than try to keep up with her, you wait near the center of the store, which should be close enough to maintain the illusion.

Satori looks on, smiling slightly. "I'd say it's impressive how someone with so much power can be so childish. However, I've already met Reimu."

While that is a pretty good burn, you do have other concerns. You're comparing the contents of your wallet to the price tags nearby, and you'll probably have to bargain Sumireko down to a single set of new clothes. You hope Satori wasn't serious about you buying her an outfit, so you're a little taken aback when she just hands you money. And a decent chunk of it.

"Satori, I didn't mean I wanted you to pay for it, I just-"

She laughs. "I live in a palace, human. If I wanted, I could easily buy the shop."

Not that you don't appreciate it, but why make it sound like you'd be paying for it? Or was it just teasing and you misread?

"Funny as it was, the point wasn't for you to think you'd be the one paying. Your friend is stressed out."

That was not the direction you thought this was going.

Satori puts a hand on your arm. "She's irritated that you were right about the tankui's trap, frustrated that her psychic powers are of little help right now, and guilty about setting up the occult balls. She also hates the idea of needing to rely on my help to get home. Above all, she's afraid that you'll get hurt, and even more afraid that you blame her for all this."

What? You don't blame Sumi for this. Well, okay, yes, it's absolutely her fault that the two of you are stuck over here, and you're a little irritated she rushed the trip over, but you did choose to come with her. Besides, Gensokyo's incredible, and nothing too bad has actually happened yet. You were pretty sure when this was all over her dumb decision would be nothing more than something to poke fun at her over. Gentle teasing, nothing more.

"And if she could read your mind, I'm sure that would be a great comfort to her. But humans lie, Gregor. They lie to each other, and they lie to themselves. And Sumireko is worried that you're so willing to listen to my advice, to trust a youkai you barely know, because you no longer trust her."

That's not it! I mean, you've been going with Satori's advice and plans for a bit, but that's just been trying to make the right calls. It wasn't a slight against Sumireko. You didn't even realize she was worried like that!

"So show her that's not the case. Address her worries while they're just worries, before they build up and become something more serious. And not just by talking to her, but with your actions. Like buying your friend something nice when you didn't have to."

You look down at the money she gave you, and back to her. Did she manipulate this disguise trip off the cuff for the sake of your friendship? That's one of the nicer things anyone's ever done for you. "That's an excellent idea. Thanks, Satori."

"I did, as you thought, owe you one for earlier. Now go spend time with your friend."

You shoot her one more grateful nod, and go to find Sumi.

[...] to be continued in next update.

(Apologies for not getting to the actual choice of the update. Slice of life stuff happened. We'll get to Nitori next time.)
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202313
The next few minutes largely consist of you carrying bags for Sumireko. She's already changed into one of the things she's presumably buying, a white and blue dress that looks kinda like a school uniform but is somehow the 'height of shrine maiden fashion'. Eh, not your problem. Her choices are more sensible than you would have expected, but the number of outfits is still more than is strictly necessary. Or remotely necessary. Or easily liftable. Nevertheless, you make a point of enduring the one woman fashion show, and restrict your snarky commentary to the inside of your own head.

Well, mostly.

"A black witch's hat? Sumi, the entire point is to look non-magical."

"No, no. It goes with these, see?" She holds up a bamboo broom and a black and white dress. "If we do need me to pull out some spells in public, I can just disguise myself as Marisa!"

That's actually more sensible than you expected. Well, except for one point. "Your hair isn't blonde."

"Oh, I figured out a way around that a long time ago." She pulls a hairclip out of her pocket, and puts it on, her hair changing to white.

You raise an eyebrow and she rolls her eyes and taps it a few time, cycling through a few shades before actually becoming blonde.

The eyebrow stays raised. "Is this that important magical research you wouldn't show me a few months back?"

"Anyway, this is probably enough," she changes the subject, tossing the latest dress on the pile.

You let it go, as ending the shopping trip is more than worth letting her dodge the question. Sumireko looks a little surprised as you actually pay for it, and a little embarrassed when the shopkeeper asks her if she was planning on framing Marisa for something. The guy laughed at Sumi's reaction and assured her that Marisa deserved it. You laugh in response, and the two of you meet up with Satori outside.

The illusion you placed over Satori is still in effect. Though really, all you did was hide her third eye and swap the color of her clothes around to resemble Koishi. You're not sure whether she hasn't noticed that effect, or if she just doesn't care. Though at the moment, you're more curious about what Satori is holding.

"Is that a cucumber, or are you just happy to see me?"

Sumireko elbows you, and Satori looks extremely unimpressed. You're calling it worth though. "Seriously though, why are you holding a cucumber?"

Satori's look remains unimpressed. "I was going to tell you, but I've reconsidered."

Sumireko smirks. "I'm pretty sure I know. Or at least have the general idea."

Satori nods. "You are correct, though the reaction is not as extreme as your reading would imply."

"You know what I can do if you don't tell me, right?"

Sumireko looks nervous at that, until Satori ruins it. "You're going to take the small loss and wait patiently, because you can't bluff a mind-reader."

They both return to looking smug, and you sigh. "Fine. Anyway, which way are we going?"

"Nitori is set up at Abandon Pond."

"Alright. Lead the way, Tori."

Satori stopped dead. If looks could kill... "Tori?"

"It would ruin the point of being in disguise if I were to use your full name. Unless there's something else I should call you?"

Satori hesitates, and Sumireko pounces. "Come on, 'Tori', it suits you."

You could hear the air-quotes on that one, and so could Satori. "Miss Komeiji will do."

Poor Satori. She might have had a chance if she'd played it off as a friendly denial, but acting cold has sealed her fate. "Tori it is!" Sumireko exclaimed.

And if Sumireko was going to do that, it would be weird for you to call her something different. Not to mention, someone could recognize her real last name.

"Traitors, the both of you."

The walk to the pond is uneventful. Marisa apparently won her previous duel, and was currently fighting a regal-looking youkai with a purple cape and purple earmuffs. As lasers flashed back and forth across the sky, you figured continual exposure to high-intensity danmaku duels was desensitizing you. Oh well. It was a clear day, but as you approached the pond, a fog suddenly set in, and the crowd increased.

By the pond's edge, you see a line up to a ramshackle wooden dock with a bunch of binoculars on it. There's a set of girls in blue hiking outfits handing out and retrieving binoculars and collecting money, one of whom is holding up a sign, 'See the famous Loch Ness Monster!' With a set of prices and viewing times.

Even with the shenanigans from Koishi earlier, you still had this mental image of all youkai as mysterious and dangerous. You can feel that idea shattering before your eyes. "Tori, this is a scam if I've ever seen one."

Satori's tone makes it clear you are not forgiven for the nickname. "Then you've never seen one. It is, in fact, real."

Sumireko's more skeptical. "Really? They couldn't have made this look more fake if they tried."

The nearest kappa speaks up, "That's the point. People are scared of real monsters. But fake monsters are interesting, for a low enough price."

"Interesting as all this is, we need to speak business with Nitori."

"Um, the boss-ma'am is busy, but if you're willing to wait-"

Satori didn't say a word, but merely pulled out the cucumber and tossed it to the kappa.

"I mean, I'm sure she'd love to talk to such good customers! Right this way!"

So that's what the cucumber was for. You found yourself disappointed; that's the pettiest bribe you've ever seen. Nevertheless, the kappa takes you around the lake to a second dock. The fog is much thicker here, but she motions for you to stay put and dives into the lake. Within the minute, you can see a shape through the fog. The classic loch ness monster shape, in fact. It becomes more clear by the second, growing larger as it swims over. You find yourself nervous, but finally it comes into view... and it's a robot. With a specific blue-haired kappa perched on its head.

You and Sumi both turn to Satori. "I thought you said this wasn't a scam."

"Hey!" Nitori yelled, jumping down to the dock. "I've got a real one, too! I just figured that if the humans were willing to pay to see one Nessie, they'd pay more to see two of them!"

Satori smirked. "Also, the kappa still had the fake Nessie lying around after her urban legend produced the real one."

Nitori scowled. "Did Piper spill all that and come get me for just one cucumber? That little spendthrift glutton!"

Satori's tone reverted to being all business."Your urban legend. How did you get it?"

"Don't you already know?"

"Only the basics. I want full details. What you did, who you fought, when it started, everything."

"What, so you can summon your own Nessie? I'm not going to create my own competition!"

"I have no interest in your little money-making monster. I am interested in a method for creating an controllable urban legend. And I'm willing to pay you for it."

Nitori bit her lip for a second, looking pensive and muttering to herself. "I hadn't considered... maybe if..."

This continued for a minute until Nitori shook her head. "No. The concept's too valuable. Although thanks for the idea. I might already have an urban legend, but there's other kappa, and the villagers are getting a little bored of Nessie..."

Satori grinned. It wasn't a happy expression, but one of a predator encountering prey. "I see you're still as brazen as always. Though it's to be expected after you had Marisa break into my house."

"Hey! We kappa live and die by our reputation! We'd never do anything to hurt humans like that."

"You still haven't figured it out." Satori laughed quietly and turned to you. "You can drop the illusion, Greg."

You're pretty sure danmaku-themed violence is imminent.

[-] Try to negotiate with Nitori yourself.
[-] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.
[x] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.
[x] Try to negotiate with Nitori yourself.
[x] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.
[x] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.

Monkey fight!
[x] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.
Mental Observation Support Corps, deploying!
[x] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.

Distract her by constantly thinking about how amazing she is and how pretty her danmaku is
[X] Try to negotiate with Nitori yourself
I can't resist
[x] Jump into the lake
[x] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.

She already said to drop the illusion, so if we don't Nitori would be super suspicious of what's going on, and we probably would have a hard time negotiating with someone we just met anyway.
[X] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.
[x] jump into the lake
never a wrong move
[x] call out for tewi
[X] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.

If the lady wishes to handle it then I don't see much rather to deny her.

>a regal-looking youkai with a purple cape and purple earmuffs.
>youkai
Don't let the Prince hear you call her that and especially don't let Futo hear you call her that.
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202333
It may be a bit too late to realize that, but a combination of wandering mind-reader and someone that can cast a persistent disguise spell on them seems to be incredibly broken. With our help, she can go full Satori on anyone she wants. Unstoppable just like that. It might even be a bit weird she doesn't want us as a servant.
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[x] Drop the illusion, let Satori handle this.

The moment the illusion drops, Nitori takes a step back.

"Satori! How-"

"Did I find someone to help me? I see no reason to answer that."

"But why-"

"You know why I'm here, kappa. Last chance. Tell me everything you know about urban legends.

"Or?" Nitori pressed something on her backpack, and a freaking helicopter rotor unfolded out of the top, spinning and lifting her into the air. You stare a little. Why does she have a personal helicopter backpack?

Satori shrugged. "Or I'll beat the cucumbers out of you, and pull the information from your mind."

"I'm not afr-"

"You are, but your misplaced pride won't let you back down. I don't mind. Allow me to return the favor Marisa delivered."


[Recollection - Terrifying Hypnotism]
Satori took to the air and opened with spirals of yellow bullets and red lasers. Nitori waited for the lasers to lock-in before sidestepping, weaving through the bullets with ease.

"For someone obsessed with that time you fought with Marisa, you've forgotten I was there for that fight! Did you think I wouldn't be prepared for that?"


[Water Sign - Hydro Camoflauge]
Nitori made a grabbing motion, and water flew up from the lake, surrounding her and hiding her within a giant sphere of water. From there concentric rings of danmaku flew out, accompanied by larger streams splitting away to come at Satori from various angles. However, Satori's counterattack is charged before the danmaku even reaches her.

"You clearly haven't prepared for what comes next. Have you considered how Marisa would handle this?"


[Recollection - Final Master Spark]
Rather than trying to find Nitori within the bubble, Satori simply vaporizes it. The blast from that master spark takes out Nitori's bubble and sends the kappa herself flying.

Nitori manages to twist herself out of the laser and stabilize before hitting the water's surface. "Your imitations don't compare to the real thing! And I've got some new tricks since back then!"


[Battle Machine - Fly! Sanpei Fight!]
The kappa immediately comes flying right back, her backpack now transformed into this jet-powered, drill-tipped harness. (That has got to be flat out magic. You don't care how good she is with technology; that cannot be physically possible.) The extra speed lets her dodge away from Satori's second laser, weave through the secondary bullets, and nail her head-on. The hit was solid enough to knock Satori out of her spell card, and Nitori disengaged, giving both combatants space to prepare their next tricks.

"Better than I expected, I'll admit."

"Now let's see how you do when you can't read my mind!"


[Water Sign - Kappa's Great Illusionary Waterfall]
Nitori flies high up into the fog, getting far enough away that you can't actually see her. What you can see is the layer of water danmaku collecting around the point you lost sight of her. It pools and crashes down in waves, drifting in different directions but always thick enough to resemble a real waterfall. Meanwhile, Satori is just dodging. She's actually pretty good at it, only getting clipped twice, but she doesn't seem to be fighting back.

"Satori, go after her!" you call out.

Satori ignores you and continues dodging. After a few more seconds and some narrow misses, she nods and turns to you and Sumireko.

"You two should duck."


[Recollection - Black Magic: Event Horizon]
Sumireko pushes you to the deck, and you watch as wave upon wave of multicolored bullets crashes in from the pond's edge towards the center. The bullets come in at all heights and all angles, and shoot upwards through both danmaku waterfall and fog. You hear a cry from Nitori, and the waterfall stops as she comes falling out of the fog. This time she doesn't recover, and falls into the pond itself.

Satori ends her spellcard and floats above the surface, waiting. "Running from my third eye won't stop me from using what I've already seen, kappa. And the lack of visibility is a double-edged sword."


[Heavy Rain - Great War Beneath the River]
The fog suddenly turns to a heavy rain, and the waters beneath her feet rise up and sweep Satori into the center of the pond.

Nitori rises back up above the waves, looking down on her opponent. "Visibility may work both ways, Satori. But water is the kappa's domain. You shouldn't have challenged me here!"

As Nitori unleashes her next spell card, an occult ball comes out, glowing with a pale blue light.


[Urban Legend - Perfect Nessie Cultivation Method]
Both 'Nessie' silhouettes appear and start rushing towards Satori. The waves are batting her around, and combined with the storm and the Loch Ness Monster cutting her off at every turn, her mobility is extremely limited. Satori swims around on the water's surface, using bursts of non-spell danmaku to push herself out of the way of the charging monsters as best she can. They're still clipping her with the edge of each charge, and she waits for both to be coming from the same angle before starting her next spellcard.


[Recollection - Loving Heart: Double Spar-
The monsters land their charge first, and Satori is unceremoniously smacked beneath the waves, her spell card lost.

"Marisa beat you and your pets back underground! Guess it's my turn to beat you here!"

Satori surfaces, coughing up water. "And how was - ugh - her fight with Utsuho?"

"She was much stronger than you'll ever be!"

"Thank you."

[Recollection - Subterranean Sun]
Satori surrounds herself with a massive fireball, vaporizing every drop of water within ten feet, and continually expanding from there. Both Loch Ness Monsters catch fire in an instant. The real one vanished, the magic summoning it broken, while the fake one shuddered and deformed as the metal underneath melts. Meanwhile, more and more water is rushing into the expanding fireball, evaporating into steam the moment it touches.

"No! Nessie! Do you have any idea how hard I worked on that?"

Nitori is opening fire on Satori, but her water abilities vaporize on contact, and while the bullets themselves seem to be getting through, it's not enough to break the spellcard. However, she's able to stay safe at the pond's edge, as the pond's water is countering the growth of the star, which is staying more or less the same size as more and more water pours in. So after another thirty seconds of this stalemate, Satori breaks it herself.

"Did you realize you weren't getting anywhere?" Nitori snarks.

"You don't realize it yet. You've nowhere left to hide, kappa."

Nitori looks around at that and realizes what Satori was getting at: the water in the pond is almost gone now, spent trying to quench the blazing star of the last spellcard. And now Satori flies up above the pond one last time, charging up one more spell card.


[Recollection - Atomic Fire: Uncontrollable Nuclear Reaction]
The first dozen or so fireballs go wide, just barely missing Nitori and burning through the spellcard she tried to summon. "Okay, okay that's enough! I surrender!"

Satori hesitates, and for a moment you think she's going to let loose with the rest of the spellcard anyway, but at Nitori's words, the occult ball materializes again and flies over to Satori, circling at it. Looking at it, Satori relaxes and the flames dissipate.

It is at that point you realize something important. The battle between Satori and Nitori has vaporized the pond, the fog, and scared away most of the crowd along with the other kappa. Over the top of the village, you can see Purple Cape and Marisa flying in this direction.

Satori looks up at the incoming fliers, down at the destruction, and groans. "I should have used a different memory."

You've got maybe fifteen seconds before they arrive.

[?] Write-in.
[X] Kappanap Nitori for further interrogation and use illusions to skidaddle the fuck outta here.

Oh yeah, I guess the risk of drawing attention would be a reason not to let her handle it.
Anyways, there's no way we could handle both Miko and Marisa, so I belive it's time to secure the intel and exfil out of the OZ!
[x] Kappanap Nitori for further interrogation and use illusions to run away.
Ideas:
1. Make an illusion of all 4 random villagers groaning in agony somewhere else close while you all make a break for it.
2. Attempt to make an illusion of the lake and the surrounding area and RUN.
3. (Please no, this idea is unrealistic) Make an illusion of Yuuka Kazami appearing out of a nearby tree (Assuming that there are still trees left) smiling at Marisa Kirisame while being covered with blood.
[X] Kappanap Nitori for further interrogation and use illusions to skidaddle the fuck outta here.

Free bodypillow! Yoink!
[x] Kappanap Nitori
[x] SOLAR FLARE Use Illusions to run away
[X] Kappanap Nitori for further interrogation and use illusions to skidaddle the fuck outta here.
[x] genuflect
[X] Ask Nitori to come with us; after all, Satori beat her in a danmaku battle.
If that fails,
[X] Kappanap Nitori for further interrogation.
Either way,
[X] Use illusions to skidaddle the fuck outta here.
[x] Kappanap Nitori for further interrogation and use illusions to run away.
[X] Kappanap Nitori for further interrogation and use illusions to skidaddle the fuck outta here.

Gregor "Kappanappa" Watanabe
[X] Kappanap Nitori for further interrogation and use illusions to skidaddle the fuck outta here.

Nothing can possibly go wrong.
[x] Kappanap Nitori for further interrogation and use illusions to run away.

You glance at the oncoming fliers and turn to Sumireko. "I don't suppose you and Satori could take them?"

"And how many more people do you think THAT fight will attract?" she shot back. "We need to run!"

She had a point. You look over to Satori's scowling. "If we leave now, all of this was for nothing!"

You got her frustration. If there was a chance of you sneaking around in Gensokyo, that was shot to former hell now. But there just wasn't time to question Nitori, even if she was going to be cooperative. Unless you flat out kidnapped her-

"Good idea."

Satori stepped up behind Nitori and without preamble shotgunned her in the back of the head with danmaku. The kappa dropped like a sack of bricks, unconscious. In the distance, Marisa speeds up on her broom, shouting furiously.

"Satori! You can't-"

"Do you want to argue this, or escape?"

You hesitate, and Satori strips the backpack off of the fallen kappa, tossing it to you. "Helicopter is activated by pressing the back left pocket. The buttons on the chest straps can be used as joysticks. Do not press anything else."

"Incoming!" Sumireko yelled.

Marisa has outpaced her companion and is currently charging up the original master spark. Maybe it's because it's aimed at you, but the hum and the glow sound significantly more threatening than the one Satori used earlier. The problem is, you won't be able to pull off a veil over four people while flying (well, not one likely to stand up to a decent mage), and even if you could, Marisa is close enough to potentially vaporize you before you can get out of the blast radius. At the same time, staying and fighting this is clearly a losing battle.

So, how do you intend to distract two fighters that seem to be both faster and stronger than any of your group?

[?] Write-in.
Some further explanation of the scenario here:

Marisa managed to get ahead of Miko, so you've got a few more seconds before the second opponent arrives.

Satori is undisguised and holding the unconscious Nitori. She's probably going to be the immediate target.

Your face is unknown to Gensokyo as of yet, and Sumireko is disguised via mundane means, though Marisa might recognize her if she gets a good look. You are unsure whether Marisa and Miko actively realize that you're with Satori or not.

Satori tossed you Nitori's gadget-filed backpack. You can probably use it to get in the air and fly in a straight line. Anything beyond that is pushing your luck.

And finally, the reason I didn't just write out an illusion getaway is because illusions alone will not make a clean getaway here. The major weakness of illusions is that they're much weaker against someone actively looking for them, and if you try to use one as a fake Satori while you all run, they'll figure it out pretty quickly. Also, between the unconscious Nitori and you trying to use her backpack-copter, you're not likely to outfly them. This isn't to say an illusion-heavy strategy can't work, but you'll need to be clever about it.
[X]Write-in

uhhhh
I dunno, me bad at open plan.
Maybe have Satori take one for the team and play into the 'we're not with her' vibe by having her toss Nitori off on the ground like she's done with her and rising to meet Marimiko for danmaku to buy time. Meanwhile, Grzegorz and Chuunireko go and haul Nitori to some illusory mob kappa like good samaritans, and when we make the 'handoff' switch so that the kappa become us under disguise and there are two illusory nerds that wander away during the fight and disappear when out of sight while we haul the boss away. Have Satori make up some story about why she picked on Nitori after she loses that doesn't implicate us, and meet up at the camp site when she's on her own again.

I mean, losing a danmaku match ain't that bad, right? And would they really 2v1 her to start with? Sure, she did go a bit overboard, vaporizing the pond, scaring the humies, and shotgunning Nitori in the back of the head, and ok this is starting to sound bad for her.
Don’t know how we could throw off the master spark but I do know that Satori’s fight with Nitori must have created a fair amount of steam.
water + heat = steam

We could use this to form a fog and hinder their sight. Then with illusons make it sound like we are running one way whilst muffling our actual footsteps as we run the other way.
Probabilities:
1. Marisa master sparks Satori. (Most Likely)
2. Marisa master sparks you and Sumeriko. (Least Likely)
Solutions:
1. (Only works if Satori is reading your thoughts right now) Tell Satori to run in a random direction, make multiple copies of her and Nitori along with the sounds of footsteps with them. (Marisa will obviously know that there are illusions at play, but...) You will also make an illusion of a fog, attempting to impede Marisa's sight (If Marisa doesn't know where to exactly shoot, then Satori will probably live). In the meanwhile, you FLY low with Sumeriko while trying to weave through the trees, actively minimizing your sight with Marisa and trying to make it as hard as possible for Marisa to find you later on. (Only problem is that you'll be mentally burdening yourself and you're also relying on random chance that Marisa's laser beam won't just get lucky and melt Satori and Nitori)
2. Attract the attention of Marisa by making an illusion of a newspaper (Preferably a Bunbunmaru Newspaper) flying into her face and by waving at her while flying away from her by weaving through trees (minimizing hitbox) and by making an illusion of smoke through trees. (Problem: Relies on Marisa's impatience and the fact that she'll forget about Satori and Nitori. You obviously also have the issue of an angry person with a 50000mW laser right behind you.)
3. We fly away and leave behind Satori (Not recommended due to the fact that you're trying to help Satori so that you and Sumeriko can actually leave Gensokyo without being hunted to death by Reimu).
Sorry, 500000mW laser*
[X] | Can You Spoof A Master Spark? | Have Satori split off from the group while we create multiple illusions of her (and Nitori) going in different directions just before Marisa fires off her attack, giving her minium time to tell which one is real, thus forcing her to choose a target in a confused panic.
[X] Sumireko and Greg act like they want to have nothing to do with this and get out of line of sight while attention is hopefully on Satori, then we get under a veil and proceed to shadow Satori while making sure to stay out of sight (and out of mind).
[X] Have Satori dump Nitori somewhere before turning to engage Marisa (and Miko in worst case) to serve as a distraction.
[X] While they're fighting, we sneak up, have Sumi take Nitori and run, while we give a signal to Satori to attempt to disengage while we illusion up fog/steam/whatever to help her get away.
[X] Meet up at an agreed upon location after Satori has either managed to successfully get away or has finished recieving her beatdown.
[X] Make sure Satori knows we really, really, really appreciate her and we feel really, really bad about throwing her under the bus(es)!

Here's my take on it.
I don't believe we'll be capable of serving as the distraction since we're not the ones who were fighting with Nitori (and capped her in the back of the head), we wouldn't be able to do much more than fly in a straight line, and our illusions work best if our target isn't focused on us.
On the other hand, Satori serves as a great distraction due to her actions, her ability to read minds giving her a better chance of stalling Marisa (and Miko), and she's more well known while we aren't, thus giving us better plausible deniability.

The real problem is Miko who could possibly hear our desires, but I'm not sure of the range of it, how much the earmuffs mitigate it, and if we could even mask our actions with our very real desire to be anywhere but here right now.
Hard to plan around it especially since Greg wouldn't know about it.
I really, really don't like the idea of throwing Satori under the bus all of a sudden.
>>202355
Well I considered throwing Sumireko under the bus, but I concluded that would have a higher probability of us being throttled afterwards.
>not throwing sumireek under a literal bus
smh
[X] Form an illusion of a bowling ball sized orb of pitch black darkness around Marisa’s head. And make it scream constantly. Do the same thing to Miko if she gets close.
-[X] Run like Hell

This seems like it would be the illusionist equivalent of flash banging someone.
[x] Activate helicopter, use that to fly and dodge the spark. Don't fly using magic, use helicopter backpack instead to concentrate on illusions. Veil Satori that's carrying Nitori and think REALLY HARD for her to run - we split up and meet up at our old hiding spot in the forest. After they get out of range, we can't help her with the disguise or veil, she'll have to manage. Stay with Sumi to cover Satori's escape, have her break disguise and hold them off. Escape after we're certain Satori isn't chased.

Only sensible battle plan that you can make in the span of ~5 seconds. Vote this or QM decides we're indecisive and fucks us over desu
[x] Activate helicopter, use that to fly and dodge the spark. Don't fly using magic, use helicopter backpack instead to concentrate on illusions. Veil Satori that's carrying Nitori and think REALLY HARD for her to run - we split up and meet up at our old hiding spot in the forest. After they get out of range, we can't help her with the disguise or veil, she'll have to manage. Stay with Sumi to cover Satori's escape, have her break disguise and hold them off. Escape after we're certain Satori isn't chased.
[x] Activate helicopter, use that to fly and dodge the spark. Don't fly using magic, use helicopter backpack instead to concentrate on illusions. Veil Satori that's carrying Nitori and think REALLY HARD for her to run - we split up and meet up at our old hiding spot in the forest. After they get out of range, we can't help her with the disguise or veil, she'll have to manage. Stay with Sumi to cover Satori's escape, have her break disguise and hold them off. Escape after we're certain Satori isn't chased.

This seems like it might work? We don't really have time to put anything elaborate into motion, and they are going to be more focused on Satori, so its either help her or throw her under the bus. So far shes been our only ally here, so I'd rather not throw her under the bus.
[x] Activate helicopter, use that to fly and dodge the spark. Don't fly using magic, use helicopter backpack instead to concentrate on illusions. Veil Satori that's carrying Nitori and think REALLY HARD for her to run - we split up and meet up at our old hiding spot in the forest. After they get out of range, we can't help her with the disguise or veil, she'll have to manage. Stay with Sumi to cover Satori's escape, have her break disguise and hold them off. Escape after we're certain Satori isn't chased.

Got nothing better.
The part about throwing Satori under the bus was a joke.
I'll reframe from making those in the future.
[X] Think hard for Satori to run to the hiding spot in the forest. Veil her as she escapes. Swap her out with Sumi illusioned to look like Satori. Have Sumi draw attention with her "Recollection" spell cards. Once Satori escapes, veil yourself and Sumi and run.

If we don't want this trip to be a complete waste of time, our first priority is to get Satori and Nitori out. Having Sumi act as a decoy seems like our best way to stall for time. Marisa and Miko will be too busy fighting "Satori" to go look for the real one. If we need to, we can pose as a random helpless villager to concentrate all our magical energy onto Satori and Sumi.

If we're lucky, we might even be able to keep our involvement with Satori a secret.
>>202364
We can't stall Miko with a fake Satori because there won't be any desires to read. Not that our character knows that.
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202367
[x] Activate helicopter, use that to fly and dodge the spark. Don't fly using magic, use helicopter backpack instead to concentrate on illusions. Veil Satori that's carrying Nitori and think REALLY HARD for her to run - we split up and meet up at our old hiding spot in the forest. After they get out of range, we can't help her with the disguise or veil, she'll have to manage. Stay with Sumi to cover Satori's escape, have her break disguise and hold them off. Escape after we're certain Satori isn't chased.

First things first; not getting killed by the giant laser. You throw the straps over your shoulders, jam the start button Satori told you about, and slam both of the button-joysticks upwards. The rotor comes out over your head and starts spinning, and with a lurch, you're pulled along the ground at high speed. After a brief moment of terror and narrowly avoiding kicking Satori in the head, you realize Nitori preferred inverted controls and manage to pull up.


[Magicannon - Final Master Spark]

As it turns out, Satori's imitation spellcards don't compare to the real thing. Not meant to be a knock on Satori, she does have a really cool ability, but what's left of the pond is now a smoking crater. As in, straight up, if you hadn't seen it yourself, you would not have guessed there was originally a pond here.

You also seem to be feeling moderately sick to your stomach. Partially due to questionable acrobatic maneuvers, but also THAT WOULD HAVE KILLED YOU. Heck, if Satori had dropped her, would that have killed Nitori too? Which reminds you. Satori needs to run. Fly. Skeddadle. Abscond from the area with Nitori, with all haste. Satori looks at you skeptically, and you jerk your head over to the horizon. Veiling two people is going to be a lot easier than veiling four, she's low on energy anyway, and she should really meet you and Sumi back at the clearing. And while you're thinking about it, you throw a veil over her real quick. It won't last long, or hold up to much, but it should give her time to get away.

Oh hey, Marisa's charging up for another blast. You don't think so. You've got an illusion prepared for that, a little globe of darkness surrounding her head. Perfect for stopping a magical psycho from being able to aim.


[Illusion Sign - Orb of Midnight]
The darkness starts around Marisa's head, but doesn't end there, expanding to a ten feet globe around her. Runic circles spin around the exterior, tracing a sinusoidal pattern as they fire bullets directly into the orb.

You stare. It's never done that before. And yet, it seems incomplete somehow, like there's a piece missing, and as you reach out to adjust the illusion, two larger runic circles snap to either hemisphere, completing the yin yang effect and firing much larger shots.

The effect isn't quite one-way. There's star-shaped bullets and the occasional laser blast coming out of the darkness ball, but they're pretty much randomly aimed.

Sumireko flies up next to you. "Since when could you do that?!"

Despite the situation, you can only shrug. "I have no idea how I did that."

She shakes her head. "Whatever, we'll figure it out later. Did Satori bail on us?! How are we getting out of here?"

"I told her - well, thought at her - to run and meet us later. As for the escape, was thinking same idea as last night. If we can knock them for a loop, that should be enough time."

"I'm afraid that's time I will not give you." Oh. It's purple-cloak. "It will be less painful if you surrender now."

You look at Sumireko. "What's the deal with purple cloak here?"

As you do so, you throw out your telepathy.

Circle around and sucker punch circle cloak here. I'll veil you and keep up the illusion.

Sumireko shrugs. "Don't ask me. I've never seen her before." I like it. Will do.

She gave a slight bow and a not-so-slight smirk. "I am Toyostaomimi no Miko, resurrection of Prince Shotoku, Taoist saint and hermit. And perhaps more to the point, the solver of the urban legend incident."

Need to keep his attention while Sumi gets in position. "You forgot 'user of pretentious titles'."

"I will keep that in reserve for formal settings. Though I must say, your desires are interesting."

You blink. Honestly, the sense of humor startled you, and the bit about desire came out of nowhere. "Are you coming on to me?"

She looks taken aback at that. "Not at all what I meant. I can hear the desires of the soul, and yours are not as I would expect of a human. Your desire for freedom is lessened, and the desire to serve, is proportionally greater."

Sumireko's almost there... "So is this some jab about your intent to capture me, or are you claiming some youkai threw a spell on me?"

"No, nothing of the sort. I speak not of outside influences, but of you. Perhaps you were born to be a follower? No, that's not quite it. Though I suppose there are more pressing mysteries at hand."


[Hermit Sign - Emperor of the Land of the Rising Sun]
Miko raises a hand, and glowing orbs shoot out in rings of light. They aren't aimed specifically at you, so a quick boost of the throttle raises you up and over them. However, Sumireko was right behind the hermit as she fired, taking the brunt of the first couple waves and being forced to scramble away.

"How?!" you demand. "That veil was flawless!"

Miko shakes her head, the same smug smile never leaving her face. "I told you, I can hear the desires of the heart. And with that lust for knowledge and recognition beating loud behind me, how could I possibly be unaware of her location?"

Great. Purple-cloak here can pierce your illusions somehow. And if that alone wasn't enough, the darkness orb you'd trapped Marisa in shatters, the witch flying out and swearing something about survival spellcards. As those two face off against you and Sumireko, you consider your plan B.


-- How do you get an advantage? --
[-] That spellcard was way more effective than it had any right to be. If you can manage another one of those, that should create an opening.
[-] Nitori is all about her gadgets, right? There's got to be something useful in this backpack. Sure, you were warned not to mess with it, but you're running a little low on options.
[-] You trust Sumireko to not just hold her own, but to win the 1v1. All you have to do is hold out against the other one.
[-] Having multiple opponents does have one benefit. The right illusion could easily produce some friendly fire.
[-] Come to think of it, there's that bracelet you enchanted with the occult ball.

-- What's your target? --
[-] Take down Marisa. Being vulnerable to your illusions means she's the easier target, and if you can take her out, you may be able to just outrun Miko.
[-] Take down Miko. Once the BS illusion-ignoring hermit is down and out, you can just use a veil to slip away from Marisa's wrath.

-- Alternatively --
[?] Write-in tactic?
>-- What's your target? --
[x] Take down Miko. Once the BS illusion-ignoring hermit is down and out, you can just use a veil to slip away from Marisa's wrath.
There is simply zero guarantee that we can outrun Miko. If she's strong enough to fight us, she's strong enough to catch up. That's obstacle one done with. Now for the hard part.

>-- How do you get an advantage? --
>[-] That spellcard was way more effective than it had any right to be. If you can manage another one of those, that should create an opening.
This is like finding an assault rifle on a battlefield and then seriously trying to shoot people with it. Without previously spending hours on the shooting range. Without training. Just on the spot. No THANK you.
>[-] Nitori is all about her gadgets, right? There's got to be something useful in this backpack. Sure, you were warned not to mess with it, but you're running a little low on options.
Last resort option number one - rely on kappa asspulls. Pls no
>[-] You trust Sumireko to not just hold her own, but to win the 1v1. All you have to do is hold out against the other one.
Ahahahahaha
>[-] Having multiple opponents does have one benefit. The right illusion could easily produce some friendly fire.
Only works on getting Marisa to shoot Miko, which could work out if done right. Still a huge gamble that needs a setup and Sumi is engaging Marisa.
>[-] Come to think of it, there's that bracelet you enchanted with the occult ball.
UNEXPLORED MAGITECH ROLL UMD WITH DC999 OR BACKFIRE

[x] Having multiple opponents does have one benefit. The right illusion could easily produce some friendly fire.
-[x] Fast talk while we're at it. Keep Miko's attention solely on us. This is not unlike a stage magician's performance. We'll be dodging a lot of bullets and bombing a lot throughout this just to survive. Trust Sumireko to help us when it's time and get out once Miko is down.
[x] Come to think of it, there's that bracelet you enchanted with the occult ball. (Hey, when are we ever gonna get the chance to use this?)
[x] Take down Miko. Once the BS illusion-ignoring hermit is down and out, you can just use a veil to slip away from Marisa's wrath.
[X] Having multiple opponents does have one benefit. The right illusion could easily produce some friendly fire.
[X] Take down Miko. Once the BS illusion-ignoring hermit is down and out, you can just use a veil to slip away from Marisa's wrath.

I would like to use the bracelet, but the blind wouldn't be very effective on Miko since she can just hear where we are.
However, while Miko can ignore our illusions, Marisa sure isn't able to; might as well take advantage of that.
[x] summon roach brothers
[x] Come to think of it, there's that bracelet you enchanted with the occult ball. (Hey, when are we ever gonna get the chance to use this?)
[x] Take down Miko. Once the BS illusion-ignoring hermit is down and out, you can just use a veil to slip away from Marisa's wrath.

Marisa is reckless and angry and has a big laser. Get her to shoot Miko with it.
>>202372
Whoops, that was supposed to be a vote for friendly fire
[x] Take down Miko. Once the BS illusion-ignoring hermit is down and out, you can just use a veil to slip away from Marisa's wrath.

[x] Having multiple opponents does have one benefit. The right illusion could easily produce some friendly fire.
No update tonight, and potentially not for another day or two. Came down with a cold, so I'm feeling under the weather at the moment.
did he died
[X] Take down Miko. Once the BS illusion-ignoring hermit is down and out, you can just use a veil to slip away from Marisa's wrath.

[X] Having multiple opponents does have one benefit. The right illusion could easily produce some friendly fire.
>>202375
Hope you feel better.
[-] Having multiple opponents does have one benefit. The right illusion could easily produce some friendly fire.
[-] Take down Miko. Once the BS illusion-ignoring hermit is down and out, you can just use a veil to slip away from Marisa's wrath.
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202381
[x] Having multiple opponents does have one benefit. The right illusion could easily produce some friendly fire.
[x] Take down Miko. Once the BS illusion-ignoring hermit is down and out, you can just use a veil to slip away from Marisa's wrath.

You fly over towards the right, putting yourself squarely in front of Marisa. Sumi, keep the hermit busy! I'll see if I can't bait Marisa into firing on her.

Easier said than done!

Are you the best psychic on earth or not?

Sumireko grits her teeth, weaving through the rings of orbs Miko is sending out. We're not on earth any more, smartass!

For your part, you try to distract Marisa with conversation. "So what's your deal, anyway? I would have thought humans would stick together and all that."

Marisa snorts. "Are you actually that stupid? You attacked my friend, blew up the shrine and part of town, and you're working with both Sumireko and Satori! Human or not, I'm going to take you apart and use the pieces for spell practice."

Well then. You nod. "I guess you've got a good gig with the youkai here, huh? Well, if you're looking for spell practice, you should start with your aim, it was pretty crap earlier."

She fires a quick spray of bullets at you, and you jam one of the control sticks, spinning to the side and out of the way. When Marisa comes back into view, she's laughing. "Do you know how long it took Nitori to get comfortable maneuvering with that stupid copter? You won't last ten seconds."


[Magic Space - Asteroid Belt]

Oh damn, that's a lot of stars. Blue and red stars coming from in front, smaller green and yellow ones from the sides. As the outermost wave approaches, you realize the magician had an excellent point. If you knew exactly what you were doing with this backpack copter, there's just enough room to squeeze through the waves while dodging the smaller stars. But for someone who can barely fly in a straight line, trying to weave through this would be worse than a joke.

So instead, you cut the power immediately, dropping down to the crater where the pond used to be. Marisa redirects the attack in your direction, but you grab some magic of your own and cast at the ground. Stone transmutes to mud and forms an arch, before becoming solid once more, the rock giving you shelter from Marisa's spellcard.

There ARE still the smaller stars coming from the side, but on the ground those are easy enough to dodge past. The barrage slackens for a moment, and you sneak a look outside your makeshift shelter. Marisa's preparing a second, larger wave, but that gives you a clear shot; remembering the runic circles in the spellcard you somehow summoned earlier, you concentrate on trying to fire off some danmaku of your own.

It works! A single circle appears in front of you, firing an unsteady stream of shots towards Marisa and hitting her dead center! And again! And again!

And... she's not even bothering to move, is she?

"Seriously? Cirno hits harder than that." She leans back on her broom, stretching obnoxiously. "There's this one spot on my back that's kinda sore after fighting Miko, do you think you could get that for me?"

"Who's Cirno?"

"Nine." What? "Though that gives me an idea, why don't I give you something a little more your speed?"

Wait, is she holding a flashlight?


[Fairy Destruction Ray]
She's shining a literal flashlight at you (though between the intensity and the area it covers, it's more like a search light), while shooting tons of small bullets and a handful of much larger ones. You get tagged by a handful of the smaller ones, but the impact is much weaker than you expected, like being punched by a child.

All the same, enough weak punches do still hurt, you can barely see anything, and one of the giant bullets crushed your rock shelter. You grimace, using your forearm to shield your eyes and face from the assault.

So, Sumi, I don't seem to have enough offense to actually threaten Marisa into using a strong attack. Or doing anything besides toying with me. Any ideas?

Sumi sends you an impression of dodging a ridiculously dense, ridiculously colorful swarm of bullets. I'm... kind of busy... here.

Another few of those weak bullets clock you on the back of the head, and you scowl. Screw this light show. Are you an illusionist, or aren't you?

You throw up an image of mist between you and Marisa, blocking her view, but more important blocking the stupid flashlight. That gives you enough time to focus, and you take a couple more of those tiny shots to focus on your next trick. You've done anti-gravity enchantments before. This is just a larger application of that.


[Enchantment sign - Groundbreaking Pebbleshot]
A runic circle forms around you, ten feet wide. The ground beneath the circle churns and breaks apart, the rocks shattering into fist-sized pieces before hurtling into the air. Coupled with the rubble Marisa's attacks had already produced, it's a pretty good spray, and you use Nitori's backpack-copter to zoom around the ground and re-fire the rubble as it falls to the ground.

At first the rubble is deflected by Marisa's larger bullets, but you gradually beat them back, climbing higher and higher as you juggle more rubble upwards. Finally, you break through your own mist, throwing the entire mass of stone and danmaku at Marisa as you dismiss the illusion. Marisa's finally forced to react, dropping the flashlight and flying for real. However, her flight is both faster and more accurate than yours, and she gets through the barrage without getting scratched.

So you catch the fallen flashlight and shine it in her eyes. Just on general principle.

That finally causes Marisa to wince, and she scowls. "You think you're cute, huh? Fine. You're starting to bore me anyway."


[Light Blast - Shoot the Moon]
Okay, you've pushed your luck dodging her spellcards long enough. As she starts throwing out massive streams of stars and lasers rising from the ground, you fly away from her, veil yourself, and leave an illusion of you back near Marisa. Which is still gamely shining that flashlight at her, as that's your most successful form of offense so far. From a distance, the spellcard is actually pretty simple, and you realize slow sideways movement is enough to keep the illusion out of harm's way.

Though on second thought, maybe you should have had the illusion get hit once or twice, as Marisa abruptly swaps spellcards.


[Love Sign - Non-directional Laser]
Those lasers came out of nowhere, and one of them clips you before you can. You lose your grip on the illusions you were maintaining, and Marisa sees you stagger. Although, come to think of it, that doesn't really matter much for this spellcard, given that it's more or less omni-directional. You fly back and forth as best you can, but it's mere seconds before another star catches you dead center.

The previous hits you took? They hurt, but they were either grazing hits or much weaker bullets, and so the pain was nothing out of the ordinary. This was a proper danmaku bullet, and you feel something crack as it hits you. It also sends you spinning through the air a good five feet, but the disorientation and the nausea is secondary to the pain. You think that broke a rib.

Marisa halts that spellcard as well, staring you down as you hang almost limply from Nitori's backpack. She holds up some weird octagon, which starts giving off a weak glow. "Huh. You're more fragile than I expected, especially after fighting your friend earlier. Speaking of which, I'd better put you to bed and deal with her."

Over to your left you can see Sumireko and Miko going blow for blow. Sumi's looks like she's actually winning, but Miko's got her occupied enough that she can't get over here in time. Meanwhile, you're exhausted, in serious pain, and you're worried even trying to dodge will hurt enough to make you pass out. And also cause internal bleeding, but that's surprisingly far down the priority scale right now.

You have just enough juice left for an illusion or two, but you've already established that nothing you can do is remotely a threat to Marisa.

Which is why you use an illusion of Koishi. The moment Marisa sees the illusion in her peripheral vision, she spins and fires at it instead.

[Love Sign - Master Spark-like Flashlight]
[Love Sign - Master Spark]


The initial beam is widespread and reminds you more of that fairy-killing ray from earlier, but she immediately powers it up, with both the hum and the laser now resembling her initial shot towards Satori earlier. The Koishi illusion vanishes immediately (as you don't have the focus to pull it out of the way or the energy to keep it up), but more importantly, the misdirected laser is now headed towards Miko and Sumireko's duel. The initial shot misses them both, but it startles Miko, who wasn't expecting it. Sumireko (who WAS expecting this at some point) promptly takes advantage of the distraction to kick the hermit between the legs, and ESP-toss him into the path of the laser.

Marisa releases the master spark the moment she's realized what's happened, but at that point Miko has been knocked halfway across the village. Sumi flies over to you.

"Took you long enough. Let's- oh. Do you have a veil left in you?"

You grit your teeth and nod as Marisa yells something about not letting you get away.

It's a weak, shabby veil, one you'd be ashamed of in normal circumstances, but it's something, and Sumireko grabs hold of you and teleports.

Once. Twice. Three times. You lose the veil on the second teleport. You lose consciousness on the third.

[-] Be Sumireko.
[-] Be Satori.
[-] Be ???
[X] Be Sumireko.
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202384
[X] Be ???
the box, the box!
[X] Be Satori.
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202386
Aaaah my urge to gamble!

[-] Be S
[-] Be Sat

[X] Be ???

Come on baby I'm feeling lucky tonight!
[x] Be the flashlight.
The holy light compels you to.
[X] Be Satori.
[X] Be Sumireko.

I will not be tempted by the mystery box. I must not be tempted by the mystery box!
[X] Be ???

I am falling for the mystery box trick, yes.
[x] be your true roachy self
[x] Be ???

MYSTERY NIGGAS
[X] Be ???
[x] Be Satori.
Mind Blast POV GO
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202395
[x] Be ???

This wasn't what you had expected. Sumireko's actions had proven her to be brash and aggressive. Breaking into Gensokyo and unleashing the Occult Balls proved Sumireko's magical ability and cunning, but had equally proven her to be brash and aggressive. Each time the Occult Balls had brought someone over from Gensokyo, she had fought them with pure magical power. Trapped in Gensokyo, on her own, you had expected the same.

Except that hadn't happened. Oh, there were a number of variables to the plan. Which direction she fled in, which order she encountered which youkai in, and whether they held on to their respective pride and tempers enough to throw the fights. But those had checked out. Byakuren, Miko, and Kasen had all agreed on the plan, and between them the Buddhists, Taoists, and Hakurei Shrine should fall in line. The handful of independents in play were either too weak to seriously threaten Sumireko, friendly enough to humans not to cause a disturbance, or Koishi.

But instead, Sumireko had defeated Kasen in earnest, and vanished. That should not have been the case. You were fairly certain that she couldn't conceal herself that effectively, and that even if she could have, she would not choose to do so. But nevertheless, she was gone, and you were at a loss as to why.

The plan had been originally pitched by Kasen (though you suspected Mamizou's influence), and you had approved. The occult balls if gathered and used properly were a threat to the barrier. Even aside from the urban legends themselves, leaving the incident be was out of the question. Killing Sumireko would remove the most noticeable threat, but leave the weapon intact, and the urban legend incident active. As such, the most effective solution would be to motivate Sumireko to stop all use of the occult balls, and to leave Gensokyo alone for good.

As such, Sumireko was to be led on a continually life-threatening chase, taken into protective custody by the Hakurei shrine maiden, and released to the outside world with a dire warning that worse would happen if the incident did not end promptly. It was elegant. The fact that Chen asked why you were plotting to gang up on and scare a teenage girl did not change the fact that this was the correct solution.

Had your master known this would happen? She had been asleep when Kasen had come with the plan, but when you'd told her about it later, she'd laughed gently and left through a gap. On her return, she gave you three orders.

1. If Sumireko reached the outside world by her own efforts, to tell Reimu of the Lunar Capital's Occult Ball.
2. To carry a sealed message to the Moriya Shrine without reading it.
3. Under no circumstances to directly interfere with or even interact with Sumireko Usami.

You had been puzzled by it, but had obeyed promptly, assuming the orders were to cover some unlikely contingency. You should have known better. As usual, Yukari had seen something you couldn't, and while you had every confidence she had the situation well in hand, you wish she'd actually tell you of her plans. You couldn't even ask her about them, as she was currently asleep.

It was futile. Shikigami of the gap youkai or not, you needed more information.

[-] Visit the Moriya Shrine. Even if you cannot learn the content of Yukari's message, the fact that she sent one at all implies their involvement.
[-] Visit the Scarlet Devil Mansion. While you have not heard any mention of Remilia in connection to the Urban Legend incident, she is one of the ones who could interfere if she so chose. And the mansion has been locked down of late.
[-] Visit Eientei. Another major power close enough to be involved if they wish. The Lunar Capital occult ball does indicate some connection, even if they have nothing to do with Sumireko's disappearance.
[-]Wake Yukari No.
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202396
[x] Visit the Moriya Shrine. Even if you cannot learn the content of Yukari's message, the fact that she sent one at all implies their involvement.
Roach just became THE HIGHER POWER. Confound the sages! Defeat all threats! Eminence from the shadows!
[X] Visit the Moriya Shrine. Even if you cannot learn the content of Yukari's message, the fact that she sent one at all implies their involvement.

by the way we gotta remember to give Marisa her flashlight back next time we see her
[x] Visit the Moriya Shrine. Even if you cannot learn the content of Yukari's message, the fact that she sent one at all implies their involvement.
[X] Visit the Moriya Shrine. Even if you cannot learn the content of Yukari's message, the fact that she sent one at all implies their involvement.

Hopping on the bandwagon!

>>202397
Preferably by doming her in the head with it.
[X] Visit Eientei. Another major power close enough to be involved if they wish. The Lunar Capital occult ball does indicate some connection, even if they have nothing to do with Sumireko's disappearance.

I want to get Eientei involved so we can eventually have Gregor, Koishi, and Reisen combine their powers of illusions, manipulation of the subconscious, and hallucinations. I'm not sure what we would do with this, but it would be pretty powerful.
[X] Visit the Moriya Shrine. Even if you cannot learn the content of Yukari's message, the fact that she sent one at all implies their involvement.
>>202400
Blessing of a war goddess would probably be better, considering that people aren't gonna job against us anymore. As in, we're going to have to fight them fair and square soon. Those are stage 6 bosses.
[x] Visit the Moriya Shrine. Even if you cannot learn the content of Yukari's message, the fact that she sent one at all implies their involvement.
You have a job to do.
[x] visit the lake headfirst
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202409
[x] Visit the Moriya Shrine. Even if you cannot learn the content of Yukari's message, the fact that she sent one at all implies their involvement.

Youkai mountain was as picturesque as ever. You always find it vaguely curious how Reimu can't fly more than ten feet without getting dragged into a danmaku battle; you are seldom if ever challenged, and today is no exception. If anything, the trip is rather dull; aside from a cordial greeting to the local harvest gods and Hina, most of the mountain's locals were absent.

Fortunately, the same was not true of the Moriya shrine itself. Upon entering the area, you encounter both of the shrine's gods in heated discussion. And danmaku. Because clearly the height of propriety for gods was to use spell cards to make points in conversation. Granted, Yukari had joked about changing the boundary of manners and rudeness to actually make that the case. And also this was Gensokyo, so such behavior was on the border of being normal anyway...

In the end, it was mostly that you wished people would put the unnecessary fighting on hold while you dealt with the necessary fighting. For all her flaws (and you had a list), the Hakurei shrine maiden was at least good at that. This one on the other hand, wasn't really involved, but didn't seem interested in stopping it either. No, that was a hasty judgement. Her posture, her resolute ignorance of the fight, and her overly fierce motions in sweeping the shrine steps; that was irritation and resignation, not acceptance.

You land in front of her, arms folded in your robe. "Good morning, Miss Kochiya."

"Oh! Miss Ran, was it? Call me Sanae, please."

"Very well," you nod. "I am here to discuss recent happenings of the urban legend incident with the gods of this shrine. Though apparently I have chosen a bad time?"

"Ah! Not at all! Or, well, not more than usual." The shrine maiden sighed. "It's the same argument since this incident started. Whether to use urban legends to generate faith."

"Whether? I would have expected their only question to be how."

Sanae shook her head. "At first it was. Having seen Reimu's urban legend and a few others, we figured they were largely harmless sources of power. Something we could use for a new miracle, to, well, demonstrate we are the Moriya Shrine."

"I have no doubt that would have been suitably demonstrated." You wondered whether she was aware of the other way in which those words could be taken. "I take it something changed your mind?"

There was a soft chime, and Sanae abruptly dropped the broom and stretched. "Lady Kanako tasked me with getting an urban legend we could use. I got one, but it wasn't really what the shrine needed."

"Oh?"

"The effects, well... I don't get tired in the same way, and it's easier for me to learn new things. It's useful, but nothing we could use to gather faith."

"Interesting. I can't say I've heard of an urban legend that would cause that."

At that Sanae colors slightly. "It's, um, an obscure one, and Lady Suwako keeps teasing me about it." Another chime. "Oh! Would you care for some tea?"

You accept the obvious subject change for what it is, and follow the shrine maiden inside. Surprisingly, Sanae had a pot already on to brew, and timed it almost perfectly; the tea is ready the moment you sit down, and noticeably better than what you'd expected. Better than Chen could manage, and close to what you could brew. (Not that you have much call to these days; your master has been enjoying increasingly elaborate coffee blends of late.) However, you did come for a purpose, and you soon redirect it to that.

A setback like that would never stop the Moriya Shrine. Not when either god could still get an urban legend. "What else happened?"

Sanae grabbed a cloth and started wiping down the nearest bannister while the shrine's gods continued clashing overhead. "We found out about Remilia."

"Oh?"

"I know she has some sort of manipulating destiny thing. I went to ask for a favor, see if she'd help out with getting a good urban legend. Sakuya wouldn't let me in."

"The Scarlet Devil Mansion is known for making at least a nominal attempt to repel visitors."

"I know, I know, you can't let common sense hold you back here. But this wasn't just standard danmaku play. Patchouli and half her library were out on the grounds, and the moment I was past the gate Sakuya had a knife at my neck. She told me if I tried to get inside, she would kill me."

Sanae grimaced as she wiped at one burn mark with extra intensity, "Nobody there was willing to explain exactly what had happened. All I really got out of Sakuya was that Remilia had already tried something with urban legends, and it had backfired. Badly enough that the residents of the mansion were outside."

"What of Remilia herself?"

"I didn't see her. Or Flandre, for that matter." She paused. "Does Yukari know anything about this?"

Almost certainly. Unfortunately, whatever insights your master had were not yours here. "Who can say?"

Sanae sighed. "I thought so. Anyway, that was pretty much that. Basically, when they heard about everything, Lady Suwako decided the risks of an urban legend weren't worth it. This was a few days ago, and they've been fighting over it since. I've been trying to keep the peace, but..."

A timely crash from outside was an eloquent description of her success in the matter. Although, you realized the overall noise had decreased. Not completely gone yet, but the duel was likely winding down. "I see. A different topic, then. Last week I delivered a message from my master to Lady Kanako. I would like to know whether you know anything regarding the contents."

Sanae merely looked confused. "No. I didn't even know about it."

She had been absent at the time, but you'd hoped the god would have told her shrine maiden about it. Alas. Getting the one of the gods to tell you would be trickier, and given their disagreement, it is unlikely you would be able to speak at length with both gods. You took another sip of tea and considered your options.

[-] In this case, Kanako is the driving force behind the Moriya shrine's plans. Speaking with her directly will lead to more information. Furthermore, you did come here to find out about Yukari's message, and that message was directly to Kanako.
[-] Suwako doesn't want an urban legend, and is less generally oppressive than Kanako. She's more likely to actually help put an end to the incident.
[!] End intermission, return to main cast.
As a side note, this intermission does have a specific end point. If you don't choose to end it early, it'll probably last another update or two.
[X] In this case, Kanako is the driving force behind the Moriya shrine's plans. Speaking with her directly will lead to more information. Furthermore, you did come here to find out about Yukari's message, and that message was directly to Kanako.

Well, as it says, Kanako was the one to get the message, so she would have more info hopefully.
[x] In this case, Kanako is the driving force behind the Moriya shrine's plans. Speaking with her directly will lead to more information. Furthermore, you did come here to find out about Yukari's message, and that message was directly to Kanako.
[x] lewd the frog
[x] Suwako doesn't want an urban legend, and is less generally oppressive than Kanako. She's more likely to actually help put an end to the incident.

Frog > Snake
[x] Suwako doesn't want an urban legend, and is less generally oppressive than Kanako. She's more likely to actually help put an end to the incident.

I know Kanako's penchant for schemes and plots is more fanon than canon, but I still trust Suwako a LOT more than her (even if she probably does some plots too).
[X] Suwako doesn't want an urban legend, and is less generally oppressive than Kanako. She's more likely to actually help put an end to the incident.
can no
[-] Suwako doesn't want an urban legend, and is less generally oppressive than Kanako. She's more likely to actually help put an end to the incident.
sewer cool
[x] In this case, Kanako is the driving force behind the Moriya shrine's plans. Speaking with her directly will lead to more information. Furthermore, you did come here to find out about Yukari's message, and that message was directly to Kanako.
[X] In this case, Kanako is the driving force behind the Moriya shrine's plans. Speaking with her directly will lead to more information. Furthermore, you did come here to find out about Yukari's message, and that message was directly to Kanako.
[X] In this case, Kanako is the driving force behind the Moriya shrine's plans. Speaking with her directly will lead to more information. Furthermore, you did come here to find out about Yukari's message, and that message was directly to Kanako.
Hmm... Better to just fulfill your master's orders. (Honestly, the note could just be a dissuasion to Kanako to stop trying to make another Urban Legend, but it could also be anything else.)
[X] Pester Sanae about the nature of her urban legend.

The urban legend of "Sanae is a slut" grants her unparalleled (sexual) stamina and let's her learn new (sexual) techniques instantly
File 162189408834.png - (94.36KB, 350x574, 350px-ThGKKanako.png) [iqdb]
202424
[x] In this case, Kanako is the driving force behind the Moriya shrine's plans. Speaking with her directly will lead to more information. Furthermore, you did come here to find out about Yukari's message, and that message was directly to Kanako.

You make your excuses to Sanae, and exit the shrine to see the results of the duel. As you had expected, it was a close run thing. Though Kanako is the one still standing, she's leaning heavily on one of her onbarisha, which Suwako is currently laying sprawled underneath.

"And that," she gasps, "will teach you to stand against the head god of this shrine."

You've been delayed long enough, so you elect to shorten the post-match gloating. And the most effective way to accomplish that is to provide a subject change that can be used for an insult. "Lady Kanako. If you have no more pressing business, I would speak to you regarding the urban legend incident."

Kanako straightens up and runs a hand through her hair. "Well, there's a little pressing business here," she tosses a glance at the flattened Suwako, "but I'm willing to leave it for a while."

Suwako growls out a curse, and the onbarisha grinds fractionally downwards.

You pretend not to notice. "Very well then. Are you aware of the latest developments in the incident?"

Kanako hesitates. "Perhaps you should be more specific."

Interesting. She does not wish to reveal how much she knows, but that could be either ignorance or an attempt to hide information. "Kasen's plan worked in part. The perpetrator of the urban legend incident arrived in Gensokyo, but was unexpectedly defeated the hermit and fled. Her current location is unknown."

Kanako covered her mouth with one hand, but you saw the smirk. "Unknown? Even to the great Yukari Yakumo?"

You narrowed your eyes. "My master is currently asleep."

"Then what is her shikigami doing here?"

"Gathering information. As I'm sure you realize, the urban legend incident will remain unresolved until Sumireko is found. Ideally I would like to facilitate that before my master wakes."

Kanako shook her head. "That explains everything and yet nothing. Again, Ran Yakumo, why would that duty bring you here? Unless you intend to accuse us of hiding her."

That was careless of you. You've been trapped in your words, and so there's nothing else for it. "I suspect the message my master sent you has some bearing on this matter."

Kanako paused and stepped forwards, staring intently. You bore the gaze calmly, meeting her eyes. "What is that gap youkai playing at? Did she tell you to come here? Or did she forbid you from coming here?"

"Aside from delivering the message initially, I have received no orders in this matter." Somewhat misleading, but technically true. "Now do you intend to answer my question?"

Kanako's smirk had returned. "It was a hint. Yukari claimed that cold fusion may be possible if the right urban legend attached to the right youkai. I investigated yesterday morning, but Utusho had heard nothing of the matter, and had no urban legend."

What did that have to do with anything? Especially if the incident was soon to be resolved? Was your master simply trying to misdirect the Moriya shrine? "The urban legends are centered around the human village. It's not a surprise that the Underground would be unaffected."

"Indeed. I considered trying to get her to visit the human village, or even just the shrine, but Utusho said she wasn't allowed above ground without her master's explicit permission." Kanako sighed. "Which is probably for the best. That birdbrain would probably blow up half the surface the moment Cirno started running her mouth."

Or maybe your master's plans were in another direction. There were other rumors that could easily attach themselves to Utusho, perhaps more naturally than cold fusion would. For instance, there was a lot of fear around nuclear power being unsafe, due to incidents like the Chernobyl disaster. You realized the implications of that, and shuddered. "I apologize. But I agree with the Lady Suwako in this matter. Please refrain from involving Utusho with the Urban Legend incident. There are many fears around nuclear power in the outside world, and if one of those attaches itself to the hell-raven, the Underground will become uninhabitable."

There was a soft "Told you so" from beneath the onbarisha, and the pillar ground down another fraction.

Kanako went back to evaluating you with her stare, and eventually said, "Interesting. Was that your master's plan, then?"

"Absolutely not! My master would never-"

"Fortunately, Suwako and I had already come to that conclusion. We did our research well before giving Utusho the power of Amaterasu." Kanako's pillars rose from the ground (including the one Suwako had been trapped under) to support her as she levitated. "Do you know the second part of Yukari's message, Ran? She ordered, ordered me not to tell you about the contents of her message. Given what you've just told me, why do you think that is?"

She's floating forwards, posturing threateningly, and you take a step back. Kanako's accusation couldn't be correct, it was impossible, but you didn't have an immediate counter-argument. You also recognized the implicit threat of danmaku, which would be disastrous. At full power, you would easily defeat Kanako in her current state. However your power as a shikigami directly depended on following Yukari's orders, and you were acting on your own here. And if you fought Kanako now, she would recognize your decreased power, assume you were acting against your master, and take that as further support of her slanderous theory.

As such, you had never been so relieved to hear a kappa screaming. Both of you turned at the noise, an a good half-dozen kappa were running towards Kanako, yelling something about Nitori. She's taken aback, and you put the distraction to good use.

"Well then, it appears you have other matters to attend to. Your assistance is appreciated." You give a quick half-bow and fly off.

If Kanako said anything, it was drowned out by the kappa.

[-] Return to the main story.
[x] return to the lake
[X] Return to the kappa (Nitori).
>Utusho
Holy autocorrect
[x] Return to the main story.
>>202427
Damn it. That's what I get for working from memory.
[X] Return to the main story.
[X] Return to the main story.
[X] Return to the main story.

Well that was a bust.
Finally someone writes a competent powerful cunning Kanako and not a joke character or weak sauce second fiddle to Suwako. Your story is brilliant in ways that I would love to extrapolate on but don’t have the time to Lost Soul. Greg is a great character and I can’t wait to see what choices he is offered next.
[X] Return to the main story.
[x] Return to the main story.

You wake up in a bed, in a forest, with a sharp pain in your chest and a face looming over you. This is incredibly disorienting, made more so when Sumireko immediately hugs you. You gasp in pain and she eases off immediately, giving you a look that aspired towards being stern, but was mostly just worried.

Your first attempt at speech is approximately halfway between 'uhwhyerenhuh' and a groan out of a zombie movie. Right. You'd been hit by one of Marisa's attacks and had at least one broken rib. Which is why, after blacking out, you were now resting in a bed, in that forest clearing you'd warded earlier. So at least the veil had lasted long enough to get you and Sumi to safety. Your bearings now well and truly found, you coughed and tried again.

"Uh, Sumi? I'm okay, really."

"Don't give me that! You were out for an hour after fainting in the middle of combat!"

"First off, it wasn't the middle of combat any more, we were teleporting out. Secondly, didn't the youkai knock you out twice back home?" And that wasn't counting the time the inchling had left her pinned to the wall. You'd laughed yourself sick before helping free her.

"That was back home! As in, not in the middle of enemy territory! Not to mention, I'm the one with the cape magically charmed to cushion impacts!"

You push yourself up to a sitting position, and feel a sharp twinge every time you shift. "Obviously I need to get myself one of those."

"We need a lot of things." Sumireko growled, and slammed a hand onto the bedside. "Damn it! Satori blew stealth all to hell. Even if we get this urban legend info from Nitori, how are we ever going to get back into the human village to use it?"

"I mean, my illusions are still a thing."

"Like they were with that Toyo-something?"

Oh, purple-cloak. Damn her illusion-piercing. Just the possibility of that made things much more difficult. "I guess we'll just have to rely on your overwhelming psychic power."

Sumireko sighed. "That might not work either. She wasn't taking me seriously back there."

"You mean purple-cloak? It looked like a real fight from where I was standing." Well, where you were cowering and dodging for your life, anyway.

"Only the end was. I knew my best shot was to lure her into a false sense of security, so I was sandbagging. Weak attacks, slow dodges, only minor telekinesis. And purple cloak matched it. Kept her attacks just strong enough to press me back, constantly taunting that I should surrender."

Huh. You honestly hadn't noticed, though to be fair you were more than a little distracted at the time. "That's still better than I managed against Marisa. She was literally toying with me; at least you have a higher gear to shift into."

"Not high enough. I... if purple cloak had been taking me seriously from the start, that would have been a much more difficult fight. I don't know if I would win a rematch."

With how confident Sumi usually was in her magical abilities, that had to be a hard admission for her. Even more tragically, it was almost a moot point. Gensokyo had no shortage of strong fighters, and if there had been, say, Reimu and Kasen there in addition to the other two, no amount of magic or illusion trickery would have saved you.

"You're not wrong."

Your injuries prevent any sudden movements, but you do sit up a bit straighter. "Satori!"

What even happened to her? The youkai looked worse for wear since last you saw her, with a dozen minor injuries on top of the general exhaustion. Nitori looks better off, and Satori is literally dragging the kappa's unconscious body.

"It's been too long since I've been on the surface." Satori dropped the kappa and half-sat, half-collapsed at the base of a tree. "Every bloody fairy and minor youkai in the forest wanted a piece of me."

"What were you thinking?!" Sumireko demanded.

Satori looked at Sumireko and blinked. "Regarding my actions? If Nitori escaped, this morning's efforts would have been wasted."

"After you blew up the pond and kidnapped that kappa, half of Gensokyo's going-"

"To be after us? As opposed to the mere forty-eight percent that wanted your head before?"

"Ah, yes! Because already being in danger is an excellent reason to double down and wave the red flag at the bull! What's next? Blowing-"

"-up an orphanage while kicking puppies?" Satori blinked. "You have a very dramatic imagination."

"Apparently not dramatic enough, because I never would have come up with kidnapping and blowing up a pond as an investigation tactic! And especially not if I was a freaking MIND READER!"

Satori is stays silent for a minute while Sumireko continues glaring daggers. You don't have the mental energy to play peacemaker right this second, and aggressively yelling at your only ally aside, Sumi isn't exactly wrong. Satori glances to you and back to Sumireko, then sighs. "I... I apologize. I underestimated Nitori."

Sumi still looks about ready to burst, and Satori throws up a hand to forestall her. "My third eye isn't omniscient. I can only pick up what other people are currently thinking about. For instance, I can see your anger at me and your concern for Gregor, but I don't know, say, how he got that injury."

Satori glanced at you and smirked ever so slightly. "Up until I said that and caused Gregor to remember Marisa's Non-Directional Laser. But that neatly illustrates the issue. To get details down to that level, I have to direct the conversation and ask about them. Which Nitori would not have allowed, not about her precious urban legend trade secret. So when bribery failed, I tried intimidation, and figured I could just beat Nitori at danmaku."

And now Satori looks sheepish, though she continues holding your gaze. "I wasn't expecting her urban legend to be as strong as it was, and I chose a poor spellcard in response. So for that, I apologize."

You hold your breath, and there's a tense moment as Sumireko looks back and forth between you and Satori. Eventually though, she sighs. "That's great and all, but we're still pretty screwed right now. You're exhausted, he's injured, and I don't know how we're going to get that broken rib set, let alone actually healed. Plus whatever manhunt was already out for me is probably intensified. And they know you and Gregor are working with me, and your rough capabilities."

Unexpected, Satori smiles. "This is Gensokyo. The sheer number of youkai and their powers can make things difficult, but they also provide opportunities. I have a few ideas."

You lean forwards to listen. "Oh?"

[-] "There's a clinic nearby, Eientei, and the medicine available there is downright magical in nature. They're isolated enough that we can probably get there before the news of Nitori, and they might not even care even if we don't beat the news."
[-] "The were-hakutaku I mentioned before, Keine? One of her main desires is to protect humans, and her power is to conceal history. If we can get her help, she could block the knowledge of this morning's incident."
[-] "Alternatively, the kappa do have a powerful healing ointment. Unfortunately, Nitori isn't carrying any on her, but once she wakes up, she'll almost certainly know where we can find some."
>>202433
Kanako's characterization here was inspired by rereading Wild and Horned Hermit. The cleverness of her negotiation with the kappa and the tengu (for the ropeway up to the Moriya Shrine) kind of stuck with me. Anyway, I'm glad you're enjoying the story, this sort of comment really does mean a lot.
[X] "There's a clinic nearby, Eientei, and the medicine available there is downright magical in nature. They're isolated enough that we can probably get there before the news of Nitori, and they might not even care even if we don't beat the news."

rabbits
I don't think Keine would be so keen to help us after Satocchi nearly blew the fuck out of some villagers. I don't think Nitori or the Kappa will either. They might do business, but they'll probably charge a hell of a premium, for blasting robonessie and shotgunning the boss in the back of the head.
[x] "The were-hakutaku I mentioned before, Keine? One of her main desires is to protect humans, and her power is to conceal history. If we can get her help, she could block the knowledge of this morning's incident."

Run us some good old DAMAGE CONTROL. And let's not get into the moon clinic just yet. At best they'd ask a premium for walking in there with a mind reader, at worst declare war for peeking into Eirin's mind and plans for moon domination.
[x] "The were-hakutaku I mentioned before, Keine? One of her main desires is to protect humans, and her power is to conceal history. If we can get her help, she could block the knowledge of this morning's incident."
We also need to deal with the long--term problem of getting more attention and dying as a result. Although I really don't know how Keine would feel about us literally kidnapping Nitori and then running to us for help... Meh, everything will be *perfectly* fine.
>>202439
Correction:
Change "then running to us for help" to "then running to her for help".
[x] "The were-hakutaku I mentioned before, Keine? One of her main desires is to protect humans, and her power is to conceal history. If we can get her help, she could block the knowledge of this morning's incident."
While Etentei sounds tempting, Keine can help us get some heat off us which will be useful since we are being most likely being actively hunted right now. Than we visit the doctor, or the rabbit if we are lazy.
Well, provided that we can somehow convince Keine despite our already current and increasing reputation of our party. Heh.
[x] "There's a clinic nearby, Eientei, and the medicine available there is downright magical in nature. They're isolated enough that we can probably get there before the news of Nitori, and they might not even care even if we don't beat the news."

I'm gonna be honest and say that I'm simply more interested in seeing how this plays out rather than the other options.
[X] "There's a clinic nearby, Eientei, and the medicine available there is downright magical in nature. They're isolated enough that we can probably get there before the news of Nitori, and they might not even care even if we don't beat the news."

Too tired right now to go into much explanation, but this is the best path to the combo I was hoping for, and the most likely to result in Gregor actually being healed.
[X] "There's a clinic nearby, Eientei, and the medicine available there is downright magical in nature. They're isolated enough that we can probably get there before the news of Nitori, and they might not even care even if we don't beat the news."

A lot of people have made a lot of good points, for and against, so I'm gonna supply my own reasoning: bamboo is nice!
[x] "There's a clinic nearby, Eientei, and the medicine available there is downright magical in nature. They're isolated enough that we can probably get there before the news of Nitori, and they might not even care even if we don't beat the news."
[X] "The were-hakutaku I mentioned before, Keine? One of her main desires is to protect humans, and her power is to conceal history. If we can get her help, she could block the knowledge of this morning's incident."

Healing our injuries will be pointless if most of gensokyo is bearing down on us.
[x] "There's a clinic nearby, Eientei, and the medicine available there is downright magical in nature. They're isolated enough that we can probably get there before the news of Nitori, and they might not even care even if we don't beat the news."
[X] "The were-hakutaku I mentioned before, Keine? One of her main desires is to protect humans, and her power is to conceal history. If we can get her help, she could block the knowledge of this morning's incident."

As nice as healing our injuries sounds, it doesn't mean much if we're assaulted again immediately afterwards.
[x] "There's a clinic nearby, Eientei, and the medicine available there is downright magical in nature. They're isolated enough that we can probably get there before the news of Nitori, and they might not even care even if we don't beat the news."

"Honestly, if I get to pick, I'd like the magical medical treatment," you comment, standing up with a wince. "It's not the first time I've broken a rib, but it still hurts."

Sumireko nods sharply. "I agree. At least, assuming we can buy medicine without blowing up the pharmacy."

Satori rolled her eyes. "I would not recommend that course of action. The Lunarians at Eientei are extremely powerful. And, not to belabor the point, but we are poorly equipped for a fight."

Hold on a second. "Wait, Lunar? As in, from the moon?"

"Yes." Satori nodded. "Aside from the earth rabbits, the inhabitants there are all refugees from the moon."

That... well then. Given everything else in Genskyo, you suppose people from the moon isn't that implausible, but that felt more like sci-fi than the fantasy nature of this place. You didn't think Satori would mess with you, but even still...

Speaking of which, Satori glanced over at you and her mouth twitched upwards. "Regardless. Kaguya's an immortal princess, but she tends towards solitude, recreational murder of a yakitori stand owner aside."

Wait, what?

"If we go to Eientei itself, the one we'll be looking for is Eirin. She's a medical genius, to the point of successfully creating an immortality elixir. While she faithfully serves Kaguya, she's the one likely to have made any plans. Such as that time they hid the moon."

She's got to be messing with you. The only question is whether this is a test of your gullibility, or actual events dramatized to sound impossible.

"Alternatively, they keep a stand in the human village, usually run by Reisen. She's a moon rabbit who serves both Kaguya and Eirin, though I've heard she's rather afraid of both of them. Despite that, she's fairly strong, being the most important and powerful mortal in Eientei."

Moon rabbits? Really? And that doesn't even work! How can she possibly be more important than the other two? Especially considering one's supposed to be a princess and the other supposedly created... wait. Most powerful mortal. "Are you saying Kaguya and Eirin are both immortal?"

"Indeed."

At that point you just threw your hands in the air. "Sure, why not?! What's next, little green men from Mars?"

Satori just stopped and coughs awkwardly. "That's an... interesting concept. Do you have stories like that about the moon?"

"Um..." Satori's awkward coughing gets louder, she glances over to Sumireko, and just breaks out into open laughter.

"If-" she says between gasps, "If you make it to the outside world and come back, please bring some of those movies. I would kill to see the Lunarians' reaction to those."

You give the youkai a flat look. "If you're finished having fun at our expense, I'd like the actual information."

Satori wiped at her eyes, still smiling. "Everything I said was true."

Seriously? Even the-

"Even the bit about recreational murder. Though to be fair, I was being misleading on that part. The person being targeted is another immortal, so there's no actual death involved."

That's still a damn strange pastime, but you suppose it's better than the alternative. You glance over at Sumireko. "How are you taking all of this in stride?"

Sumireko looks actually smug. "I already knew. Mokou told me a little before the occult balls pulled her back here."

"And you didn't fill me in?"

"She said there was no chance they'd go after the occult balls. We had more important priorities."

Satori coughed, grabbing your attention. "Indeed. Regardless, despite their ability, Eientei has remained neutral in most of Gensokyo's incidents, and that works to our favor here. Once we navigate through the Bamboo Forest, we should be able to buy the necessary medicine with little difficulty."

You nod. It's a simple plan, but sometimes those are best, and under the circumstances, you like the idea of getting something done without fighting anyone.

"What about Nitori?" Sumireko asks. "We can't just leave her here, and regardless of isolation, carrying an unconscious body around is going to raise questions."

[-] Actually, taking an unconscious person to the doctor is perhaps the single least suspicious thing you can do with one. If anyone asks, Nitori was on the wrong end of an over-enthusiastic danmaku duel.
[-] She really is out cold, and you've got her separated from all her tools. If you tie her to a tree and leave her here, you've got pretty good odds of getting back before she wakes up, let alone before she can get loose.
[-] We don't all need to go on this little shopping trip. We just have to leave a guard behind. (Select who you want to leave behind.)
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202450
[x] We don't all need to go on this little shopping trip. We just have to leave a guard behind. (Satori)

Preemptively avoid the creation of War Plan Blue by not including a walking NAP violation.
[X] Actually, taking an unconscious person to the doctor is perhaps the single least suspicious thing you can do with one. If anyone asks, Nitori was on the wrong end of an over-enthusiastic danmaku duel.

Never split the party, never leave the important mcguffin/VIP unattended, and, when in doubt, bullshit your way out of a situation.
Always heed these basic rules of adventuring!
[X] Actually, taking an unconscious person to the doctor is perhaps the single least suspicious thing you can do with one. If anyone asks, Nitori was on the wrong end of an over-enthusiastic danmaku duel.

I agree with the reaons stated above, and also, what if Nitori actually needs to go to the doctor (a slim chance, but head injuries can be risky).
[x] Actually, taking an unconscious person to the doctor is perhaps the single least suspicious thing you can do with one. If anyone asks, Nitori was on the wrong end of an over-enthusiastic danmaku duel.
[X] Actually, taking an unconscious person to the doctor is perhaps the single least suspicious thing you can do with one. If anyone asks, Nitori was on the wrong end of an over-enthusiastic danmaku duel.
[X] Actually, taking an unconscious person to the doctor is perhaps the single least suspicious thing you can do with one. If anyone asks, Nitori was on the wrong end of an over-enthusiastic danmaku duel.
[X] Actually, taking an unconscious person to the doctor is perhaps the single least suspicious thing you can do with one. If anyone asks, Nitori was on the wrong end of an over-enthusiastic danmaku duel.

Leaving her could lead to Miko finding the secret hiding place.
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202461
[X] Actually, taking an unconscious person to the doctor is perhaps the single least suspicious thing you can do with one. If anyone asks, Nitori was on the wrong end of an over-enthusiastic danmaku duel.

Satori glances at you and smirks. "You're more devious than I gave you credit for. Yes, that actually works."

Sumireko sighed. "Mind filling me in on your brilliant idea, Greg?"

"We do the socially responsible thing by taking the unconscious youkai to the doctor. After all we've seen, a danmaku battle getting out of hand has to be common."

"It is. I had to ban my pets from playing at home after the second time Utsuho melted a hole in the floor."

You add that to your newly created mental category of just Gensokyo things. You have a sinking suspicion that it's going to be a very large category.

"Yes. Larger than that, even," Satori says. Sumireko raises an eyebrow, and Satori turns to her, saying, "No. No you do not."

Huh. That actually is annoying when you're the one locked out of the conversation. "Alright then. Let's hurry up and go before more youkai arrive."

Sumi holds up a hand. "Point of order; traveling methods. We'll want to fly to actually get there quickly, but can you even use that helicopter pack with a broken rib?"

Ah. You wince. "Can, yes. Should? Probably not."

Satori frowns, her third eye flitting back and forth. "Hm. While one of us could carry him, that's unlikely to be more gentle than just using Nitori's backpack. And Nitori herself will need to be carried as well."

Sumireko blinks. "Wait, could you actually carry him for that long?"

"Of course. You mean you- interesting. I'd assumed your magic would grant you the necessary strength."

"Yes and no," you explained. "Sumi could definitely lift me with magic; we've tested it out and her upper limit is around an SUV. The problem is that holding something steady with telekinesis is like a magical deadweight exercise. She could fly me a short distance, but not across a whole forest."

"I guess there's nothing else for it." Sumireko sighed and detached her cape, tossing it over to you. "I know you're crap at levitation, but with the cape doing the heavy lifting, you should be able to drift forwards, and above all it'll be a gentle ride. I'll hold the sci-fi backpack, and Satori can keep ahold of her prisoner."

"My prisoner?" Satori raised an eyebrow.

Sumireko grinned and strapped on the backpack, starting up the rotor and rising into the air. "You did just imply you're capable of carrying a person over long distances. Or a kappa, in this case."

"You're actually using the helicopter?" You ask. "I thought you'd just fly."

"It's more tiring without the cape," Sumireko answered, messing with the controls and hovering around the clearing.

"Also, she's been dying to try flying that thing ever since she saw Nitori with it," Satori said dryly.

Sumi swoops back through, moving at a speed more reminiscent of her normal flight. "Convenient how that works out, isn't it?"

Satori picked up the still-unconscious kappa, rising into the air herself. "Indeed. You're surprisingly shameless about it."

Sumi shrugged, wobbled in the air because of it, and grabbed back onto the backpack's straps to stabilize. "You'd just put my private thoughts on display anyway, so why not? Turnabout is fair play, after all."

"Then I suppose I should concede this round of petty one-upmanship."

Sumireko went into a dive, forcing Satori to dodge out of the way. "Bitch, I'm the queen of petty one-upmanship."

As your friend flies off, Satori waits for just a moment before dropping her parting shot. "So that's the power of a high school girl."

The youkai's tone is as dry as ever, and you find yourself laughing as you wrap the cape around yourself. (Though only briefly, it hurts to laugh.) She's not wrong, either. Gensokyo may have a lot of insane, powerful, wonderous things, but when it comes to petty social squabbling, you're pretty sure nothing here can top high school.

Satori snorts. "We do tend to specialize in petty violent squabbling here in Gensokyo."

"And that's your problem," you respond, activating the enchantments. "How can you master truly cutting sarcasm if the person you're insulting can just beat your face in?"

The anti-gravity charms within kick in, and you slowly drift upwards. The magic is holding you up evenly at every point of your body, as if weightlessly floating in dry, breezy water. In one way it's kind of eerie, but it's significantly more comfortable than being suspended by the backpack-copter would have been. Speaking of which, how on earth is Sumi flying that thing that well this quickly? She always did enjoy her flight simulators, but even still...

"She's cheating with her own levitation. Kappa are technological geniuses, but their works still need to do business with the laws of physics. Sumireko's definitely giving herself some extra acceleration on those turns."

Huh. With that minor mystery solved, you turn your attention to your own flight. It's considerably less graceful; you can't get a good enough grip on the air to use it for propulsion, so you need to use a telekinetic shove against something solid. After a little experimentation, you realize the forest is actually a benefit here; the trees stand tall enough for you to push off against them while still maintaining the same height. It's still awkward, but it's enough for you to follow Sumireko towards the Bamboo Forest. After a moment, you realize Satori's lagging behind.

Well, that's not precisely correct. She does look tired, but she's still flying steadily. At the very least, she's in better shape than you, and even carrying Nitori, she's a better flier than you. Which means that if Satori's following at a distance, she's doing so deliberately. Maybe Sumireko's.... Sumi-ness bothered her more than she let on.

You drift back to ask the question, but Satori beats you to the punch. "No, it's not that. Believe me, I've been called worse for much less reason."

"It's mostly worry, you know." Sumi's barely-veiled hostility that is. You consider clarifying, but Satori almost certainly read that from your mind any-

"Yes, I am aware."

"We actually dealt with youkai back on earth. Minor ones, nowhere near the scale of what's here in Gensokyo, but we found them while looking for the power stones. Sumi figured out that they prey on weakness-"

"-and so refuses to show weakness to me." Satori gives you a brief nod. "I was already aware; her thoughts were not complicated."

She's preempting you more aggressively than usual. "Are you okay?"

"I think we've established that I'm not the one with a serious injury."

"But that's not what I asked. Are you okay?" Satori looks up in surprise, and you explain. "I don't need to read your mind to see that you're tired. I just wanted to say, shenanigans at the pond aside, I do appreciate you helping us out. Sumi will too, once she gives up trying to control the situation."

A tree looms in your path, and the two of you flying around opposite sides of it. Satori isn't looking at you, watching the path ahead. "That is hardly a matter for gratitude. I'm helping you in return for your help with Koishi, nothing more."

"Even still, that's better than we've gotten out of the rest of Gensokyo. Besides, it's nice to be able to talk with someone who's not looking to attack you on sight."

Satori remains silent at that, and after a moment you decide to press. "So one more time, then. Are you okay?"

She sighs. "You wish to know why I'm lagging behind. It's not physical tiredness. Your friend was using cheap thrills to distract herself from the cloud of anger, worry, and fear underneath. I have no need to observe that process first hand."

"Can you not avoid reading minds?"

"Can you not avoid hearing a nearby conversation?", she asks. "Even with conscious effort, you will get the general gist."

And with that, it clicks. If Satori's always hearing everyone's thoughts by default, she's always privy to whatever negativity they're hiding. Which, if Gensokyo is anything like home, would be a significant amount. It explains a few things, both about her personality and her current state.

Also, she's probably hearing this analysis right now, which... actually that's awkward.

Satori smirks. "It is fortunate I don't suffer from secondhand embarrassment."

[-] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.
[-] It's better to change the subject, and there was something weird you'd been meaning to ask her about. Maybe she'd know why your magic has been stronger here in Gensokyo.
[-] Go for a subject change, but keep it light. She mentioned having pets, ask about those.
[x] call for tewi
[X] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.

Haha! Time to be a busybody!
[X] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.
[x] Go for a subject change, but keep it light. She mentioned having pets, ask about those.

Birb
[X] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.
[x] Go for a subject change, but keep it light. She mentioned having pets, ask about those.
[x] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.

SOCIAL AUTISM
[X] Go for a subject change, but keep it light. She mentioned having pets, ask about those.

We get to little Satori in stories.
she’s often passed up for other girls.
plus thos portrayal is on point.
ignore the vote directly above its mine, changed my mind.

[x] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.
[x] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.
[X] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.
[X] Forge ahead anyway. There's nothing in particular going on right now, Sumi's occupied with her helicopter flight; this is a chance to understand Satori better.
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