The intense chirping of cicadas was what brought you back to the land of the living. You came into consciousness, but your eyes remained close, and a pounding in your head begged you to return to slumber. Try as you might though, the insistence of the cicadas urged you to stay with them. Deeming a return to dreamland hopeless, you lifted your upper body off the ground and opened your eyes.
You were sitting on a hill, covered with lush grass. You could see a lake about ten minutes ahead from you, though mist seemed to shimmer above the lake, obscuring your view of what lay across it. Mountains off in the distance surrounded you as if cradling you tightly in their embrace. This area seemed lush, peaceful, and completely foreign to you. Nothing was ringing a bell, even the grass felt different. How did you even get here? You... Actually, just remembering felt difficult right now, with so many details in your head fuzzy. You could deal with that later.
You stood up, brushing some of the grass and debris off of your pants, when you noticed a flyer about eight feet from you, caught between two rocks, the wind trying to tug it away but the rock refusing to let go. You picked up the purple paper and examined it.
>"By popular demand, here is your introduction and primer to your current tubular predicament! Where are you? You're in Gensokyo now! What is Gensokyo? A radical land of magic! Monsters are real! Youkai are real! Have gnarly fun, but be careful! If you really want to return home, seek out Hakurei! Otherwise, enjoy your mondo new future!
>"P.S. Watch out for Rumia! She's waaaay uncool for newbies! x~x"
You stared at the flyer for a few moments. You weren't sure which to find more incredulous - the outrageous claims it had made casually, or how it seemed written by someone madly out of touch with society. Like an old person, desperate to appear cool with the youth, but with no idea what the youth truly are or what they do.
As you folded up the paper to put in your pocket, a loud sound interrupted the cicadas.
You turned around, to see a few feet behind you a young-looking girl, with blonde hair and a black dress. She was holding a huge slushie with both hands and taking very loud sips from it.
Her eyes were looking straight at you, and you returned in kind. Hours seemed to pass, before finally, her sip ended loudly with a pop, as she smacked her lips.
"... Heya. You new around here?"
You nodded, unable to do much more due to the surrealness of your current situation.
"Is that so... Is that so..." She took another sip before walking in a somewhat exaggerated manner to a nearby log in the shade. Her legs kicked up high, and she did a little spin before sitting on the log. She took one more sip before patting a hand on the open space next to her. Feeling compelled, you joined her on the log. She held out her slushie to you. "Want a sip?"
The label featured a blue-haired girl in a green hat winking. "IMPOSSIBLE HUMAN - INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM REAL HUMAN*." You shook your head, to which she shrugged, and took another sip.
The cicadas filled the silence between the sips, as you just sat awkwardly next to the short young girl. The awkwardness of the situation continued to grow until, finally, you took the initiative to speak. "So," you began. "What's your name?"
"Rumia." The blonde said after a sip. Before a chill could go up your spine, "You were warned about me, huh?" You nodded, uneasy. The young girl sighed. "Is that so... I did something bad long ago you know." She looked at her feet, which are kicked up a bit into the air. You mentally try to think of how fast you could dart at a moment's notice. This little girl seemed harmless, but if the letter was right, and there were monsters... Was this what they looked like? Or was it one elaborate prank?
Rumia took another sip. "I don't like being bad though, people get angry at me and yell. Yelling isn't fun. Are you sure you don't want a sip?" She extends her slushie towards you again, to which you once more refuse. Her brows furrow a bit. "Is that so? The monk said I should help people like you, but you don't want to be helped. This is ungood, huh? What to do..." The loud sound of her sipping grew tiresome to your ears. Still, unless this was an elaborate act, this girl didn't seem remotely hostile (aside from her morbid choice of drink).
After another sip to ponder, Rumia finally had a brilliant idea. "What do you want?" She asked simply.
What did you want? Safety? A return to a world more familiar than this? Comfort? All those may have been smaller desires. But in truth, there was one thing you wanted, one thing you wanted more than anything in the world, and it was something you could never admit to openly;
Hags. You fucking loved hags. Your memory may be a bit fuzzy, your past obscured currently, but you know the one thing you've always adored and desired in life are older women. You want an older woman to hold you. You want an older woman under you and on top of you. Your desire for an old hag to love and embrace was deeper than the Marianas, taller than Everest. It filled every inch of you and created a thirst desperate to be quenched. What was the appeal of an older woman, and what led you to seek comfort in her ample bosom? You didn't know, but God you craved it.
This was a deeply hidden and held desire, as such you could barely admit it to yourself. And such an answer likely would've been useless to the little girl before you. Instead, you answered Rumia with a more mundane "I think I need somewhere to stay for a while." If you were going to be stuck in this magical place for a while, you'd need somewhere better than this hill to sleep on. You'd probably need food and water too. At least until you could find this "Hakurei" figure.
If you wanted to find her.
Rumia nodded and looked forward, as if deep in thought. Then, she took another sip from her slushie. Was that thing bottomless? "I think I know people who can help you! By showing you them I'll have helped you!" She beamed with pride at the idea of tossing you to be someone else's problem, genuinely thinking this would fulfill her obligation of helping. And it probably would be for the best, this young girl's aloof nature made her a bit unsettling to you. Rumia took one big sip, as if she needed the fuel, and began to list off;
"The monk lady is very friendly and kind! She acts like everyone's mother! She's very tall and strong, but also nice! Her hair smells good too, but not like meat. I wish it did."
"She often fights with this blue-haired lady and some other people with the blue-haired lady. The blue-haired lady is like a teacher I think? People say she's dangerous though. They say I'm dangerous too though..."
"My teacher isn't dangerous though, Teacher Keine is very friendly! She's also mean if I don't do my homework, but she should still help you, she likes humans! I think everyone I said likes humans, right? I like humans too! They're neat and funny and tas-and funny."
"Sometimes Keine talks with this rabbit lady for works for a doctor lady. Are doctor ladies called nurses? I think so. Doctor nurse lady they say is scary, but she seems to help people. I went to her once when I got a boo-boo. She didn't give me a lollipop though. I want a lollipop. Do you have a lollipop?"
"I hear the doctor nurse lady fights regularly with Miss Yukari. I don't know much about her, but people know her. She's an important person in Gensokyo though, she might help you too?"
"There's also the lady on the mountain, she's a goddess. I think there are other goddesses with her too? They do goddessy things together on the mountain. She's supposed to be big on... businessy things? She must be popular if so many other goddesses are with her."
After listing the six, Rumia looked to the sky. "Oh, it's going to be dark soon." You looked at her puzzled. Was that bad? "Nope. I like the dark. But my drink is almost gone. Which lady do you want to see? I want to get more drink after I bring you to the lady." It seemed time to make your decision. Rumia hadn't given you much in the way of details, but you'd just have to make due. You couldn't place why, but you had a feeling that the decision you were about to make right here, right now, would be one of the most important in your entire life.
Or maybe it'd be kinda meaningless. How could you know?
The Monk Lady The Blue-haired Lady Keine the Teacher Doctor Nurse Lady Yukari the Mysterious Lady Businessy Goddessy Lady
> "There's also the lady on the mountain, she's a goddess. I think there are other goddesses with her too? They do goddessy things together on the mountain. She's supposed to be big on... businessy things? She must be popular if so many other goddesses are with her."
I'm pretty sure that's referring to Kanako and the Moriya Shrine, not Chimata.
[x] Yukari the Mysterious Lady SSSSSSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX I'M NOT DOING SEX MY MY WHOLE EXISTENCE HAS TRULY BECOME SEX SSSSEEEEEEEEEEXXXXX "STOP, ANON! YOUR BODY CAN'T HANDLE MUCH MORE OF FLUFFY TAIL!!!!!" NO, I'VE BECOME SEX SSSSEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
Of all of the people Rumia had listed to you, Yukari was one of two she actually knew by name. And also "one of the most important people". You didn't have much to go off of for any of them, but these two facts in and of themselves seemed like strong enough reasons.
"How about asking this Yukari lady for help? If she's so important, she could probably easily get e a place to stay. Hopefully, if she's nice."
Rumia grinned and nodded. "Alright! Yukari lady it is then!" She said, her eyes filled with determination as she let her empty cup fall to the grass.
. . .
The wind blew, as her face held onto that determined look. Did she expect you to do something? "So, we..."
"I don't know where the Yukari lady is! No one really knows!"
. . .
"Well then why did you-"
"EXCEPT!" Rumia pointed a finger towards the air, excited to share this news with you! "Except for HER! One of the most powerful girls here, the protector of Gensokyo! She certainly will be able to show you the Yukari! And by me showing you the girl who will show you Yukari, I will have helped you!" Rumia gave a toothy grin full of pride. "The monk lady is going to be so happy with me! She's going to give me a bunch of food tonight!" She held out a finger and pointed to the west, alongside the shore of the lake. Following it, you could see far in the distance what appeared to be a small building tucked away in the mountains. Well, it seemed like a far trip but you had nothing better planned.
"We should get walking before it gets dark then, right?"
"If you want to Mister Human, I like the dark." Despite the change in her demeanor, the fact she specified you as human felt a tad unnerving.
You lead the way going in the general direction she pointed to, following the side of the lake. Rumia hummed as she floated side by side behind you. Her eyes were closed as she remained in her own little world. With her musical accompaniment and the fading sounds of the cicadas, you decided to admire some of the surroundings on your trek. The lake's water was notably pristine, mired not by pollution or murk. Its water was a deep blue. Though you couldn't make out the opposite side of the lake, the shoreline on this side seemed clean, with frogs, reeds, and... ice? Had it snowed here recently? The weather seemed like it was late summer or early autumn, that was way too early for there to be snow or even frost out. Yet, as you traveled further, more signs of Father Frost appeared.
Icicles dripping from spots on a tree. Small icebergs slowly melt in the water. A frog frozen in mid-jump. An entire igloo. You turned back to Rumia, who continued her melody blissfully oblivious. Maybe this was just... normal in this world? You turned back forward and kept walking, now seeing a frozen-
"HEY! Where ya going, Mister Human?"
You turned around to see Rumia floating, arms spread out, in front of the igloo. "She's here! Is your eyesight bad? How did you miss it?" Holding back any rebuttal, you walked back to her. She pointed at the entranceway. It was small. You'd have to crawl. You looked back at Rumia. "Well? Go on in! She's home! I think."
With a held-back sigh, "When in Rome I guess" as you got on your hands and knees, and began to crawl through the igloo's small entrance. "Good luck Mister Human! You're welcome for the heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp." Rumia's voice faded out. The minute you have to crawl she decides to bail? She must've thought her job was done the moment she could hand you off to someone else. Oh well, a-hey wait, you didn't even know who you were supposed to be seeing! Second thoughts began to fill your head, but you decided to keep crawling, at least to see if anyone was home.
This tunnel was longer on the inside than it looked from the outside, but you, at last, neared the inside of the igloo. The moment your face popped into the room though, it was greeted with a foot.
The foot came from another girl, one slightly taller than Rumia, but not by much. A blue dress, accompanied by blue hair and a big blue bow adorned this girl. Her face was sneering, like a bully who just saw his favorite target on the playground pull out his game boy. "Well well well. What have we here? What brings a human to Cirno's castle? You're not trying to destroy it are you?"
"NO! No!" You exclaimed, stuck right at the end of the entrance tunnel and thus unable to stand up. "Rumia just told me to come here, she said you can help me!" It was a bit hard to plead your case while a foot was on your face. Some people would pay good money for this experience, but you couldn't see the appeal.
"Ah, did she now?" She held a finger to her head as if to mimic someone deep in thought. "Well of course I can help! I'm Cirno. There's nothing I can't do! I can do anything, freeze anything, and defeat anyone! Gensokyo is my realm! Watch this!" Cirno took her foot off your face. She held out her hand, and several ice spikes appeared out of thin air, before they flung themselves against the icy walls, shattering as they did so. "Cool huh?" Was that a pun? "Oh, watch this!" She held out her hands and glared. Then she stopped. "Now that was cool, right? The coolest!"
"What did you do?"
"I froze time!"
"You... froze time?"
"Yeah! Better than that dumb maid's ability right?"
"Dumb ma-nothing happened though."
"You think nothing happened because I froze time! But then I unfroze it! You just couldn't tell! I can freeze anything." This was starting to look hopeless.
"Look, I just need to see this Lady Yukari lady, do you know here? Can you take me to her?"
Cirno brought her finger to her head again. "Hmmmmm...." She looked at you, her eyes going up and down. "Hmmmm...."
"Is that a yes?"
"Hmmmmm... Yes!" Finally, that was- "On one condition!" Dammit. "I need an underling! Have you looked at the other people in Gensokyo?"
"What's the one thing all the powerful strong people have in common?"
"I don't know, I just got here an hour ago."
This young girl's arrogant-yet-idiotic thoughts were quickly wearing out your previously nervous and cautious attitude and replacing it with a much more curt one. Ability to generate ice out of thin air be damned, you were starting to get the feeling Rumia had misled you about who Cirno was.
"Well, all the strong people have underlings! But not me! And I should have one! I have friends but no underling to boss around! That's just not right! So you can be my underling! Pledge yourself to me and I'll take you to see Yukari!"
"... I'm sorry I can't do that."
Cirno frowned. "Oh, OK. I still need an underling though. I do have some others I'm thinking of making my underling though! I think they'd be all about equal in underlingness, so I'll let you pick the one that'll be my underling!"
She placed three pieces of paper on the ground, each with a crayon drawing. You looked at them, the absurdity of the situation sinking into you more and more. "So you want me to just pick one?"
"You'll also help me make them an underling too! Don't worry, you just need to come with me and tell them how powerful and strong I am and why I should be their underling! I'll even be generous - if we somehow fail, which we won't, I'll take you to Yukari anyways! What do you say?"
You looked down at the three pieces of paper. One had this tall green-haired lady crying and pleading for mercy. "NO CHEERNO U R 2 SRONG DONT HURT ME". Flowers surrounded her. Cirno was freezing some of the flowers.
The second had this huge circular woman inside an ice cube crying while eating cake. Snowflakes were drawn around her, while Cirno was freezing her. "O NO I AM DEFEETD UR FRIZ IS FRIZER THEN MY FRIZ I WANT CAKE".
The last had a girl with black wings, completely frozen over. She cried while Cirno stepped on her. "CHEERNO I WIL NOT WRIT DUM BAD STORES ABOT U NYMOR U R SMART AND COOL".
As dumb as this situation was looking, maybe one of them could actually give you some proper help? Or maybe you could try and actually make them Cirno's underling, though you had doubts that would work out.
 "Please, mighty Lord Cirno. Mercy upon the flowers!"  "Oh indomitable Lord Cirno, don't ruin the slothful one's food stores!"  "Will the sovereign Lord Cirno please spare the humble journalist of her crimes?"
>>203738 >O NO I AM DEFEETD UR FRIZ IS FRIZER THEN MY FRIZ I WANT CAKE Initially, I thought this option referred to Letty since it had FRIZ in it, but it being the glutton makes sense. Possibly a one-for-one deal as Youmu is there as well. An underling's underling.
[X] "Oh indomitable Lord Cirno, don't ruin the slothful one's food stores!"
Ah, Letty also makes sense. I was thinking it was Yuyuko because of the "circular" (fat) and "cake" bits and her often being memed as gluttonous, but Letty is also memetically called fat because of her large hitbox.
In that case, all the options are about equally useful in how much information they give about Yukari.