"Alright, I'll do it." She smiles as you speak. "If it's going to happen anyway I'd hate to waste time. Let's get it over with." She continues to stare at you for a minute without speaking. Feeling uneasy, you put a hand in your pocket. But what's this?! A rounded object in your grasp! You pull it from your pocket and look at it. The monocles. That's right, you'd picked them up as you left. "Alright, it's done." She finally says something. "What is? I don't feel any different." You raise an eyebrow. With all these eyebrow-raising games, you need another drink. You raise your hand to the bartender. He doesn't notice immediately so you hold it for several seconds. He seems to be trying to kick the girl at the bar out, and she seems to be pestering him for another drink. "Hey, what's this?" Remilia grabs the monocle out of your hand. "Hmm? This is nice, can I have it?" "Nope, I'm afraid not. I need it for something." She holds it up to her eye as she speaks. "Hmm.. It seems to hold some strange powers.. Let's try it out. Sakuya!" The maid leans over, unafraid of what may happen. Remilia puts it on her and demands, "Say something." "What will you have me say, mistress?" Normal. Absolutely normal. "When these two had it on they started talking funny." Youmu explains, pointing to you and Aya. "No, I think it's working. This is just how she is." Remilia snickers, taking the monocle off Sakuya. She leans over to Youmu and puts it on her instead. "Now you try!" Youmu speaks something unintelligible, yet you recognize it as German. Remilia's face lights up. "Oh, this is interesting! Let's try it on other people!" Remilia yanks the chain from Youmu's head and hands it back to you, smiling like a child who was given a new toy. "Let's try the Oni at the bar first!" She grabs you and Sakuya and runs over to the bar. You turn the drunk girl's head and put the lens to her eye. "My word! I do believe I have imbibed just a trifle too much." She speaks cleanly, and with a strange British accent. "Dear sir, who might you be? Unhand me! You forestall my intake of alcoholic beverage!" Remilia pulls the monocle back off. The girl continues in a heavily slurred voice. "Th'll'r'e'dn.. L'mmgo! G'mm'noth'r.." She slumps back down on the bar as you let go of her. You could've sworn she was the same one at the shrine. What was her name again? Before you have time to think, Remilia drags you over to the suspicious girl in the corner, practically slapping her in the face as she puts the monocle on. "Goodness gracious me! What manner of treachery is this? Why have you assaulted me, young woman?" The girls stands up. She's not much taller than Remilia. "Heeh? I like this one better!" She turns to Sakuya and smiles. "I'm gonna take her home!" "Lord, be this the truth?" The girl holds her arms out to her side. "Hmm, maybe it doesn't work on humans?" Remilia stifles a laugh. "Lord, be this the truth?" The girl stands there, smiling widely. Remilia yanks the monocle off her face and slaps it in your hand. "Take good care of this treasure, now." The pitch of her voice rises as she speaks, and she breaks out into laughter. To you, it sounds like a maniacal cackle. "Is that so~" The girl continues to speak, as if she were still a part of the conversation. She retakes her seat in silence. Remilia leads you and Sakuya back over to your table as Youmu and Aya follow you with their eyes, their faces in shock. As you sit down, Remilia speaks. "Well, it's been fun, but I must bid you farewell." She bows elaborately. "The three of you are welcome to visit at any time. I do believe my sister would enjoy that plaything of yours." She turns to leave. Youmu calls out to stop her, but she's already out the door with Sakuya close behind. "Why'd you try to stop her?" You turn to Youmu. just then, you notice the bartender standing over the three of you holding a slip of paper. Youmu simply points to it. "She stuck us with the bill...."
The three of you walk out of the bar. Fortunately for you, you didn't have any money. Yet by some act of the devil, Youmu ended up paying for the whole thing. "Ahh! My money!" Youmu scratches her head in frustration. "That damned brat!" "Now now, I'm sure things'll work out somehow." "Of course they will! We're marching over there right now to get her share of the bill!" She shakes her fists in the air. "Let's not do anything rash. We've still got that dragon to worry about" You'd try to stop her physically, but you're carrying the unconscious Aya on your back. "Damn the dragon!" Youmu yells. Really, you're starting to feel the same way. Searching for it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Nobody knows anything! "You could try to get something from this one, here." You pull Aya up on your back, readjusting her position and motioning to Youmu in one move. "That damn Tengu... Drinking away my gift money!" She turns her shaking fist to face you. Or rather, the unconscious woman on your back.
Youmu continues to curse silently to herself as you walk back to Keine's house. On your back, the unconscious Aya shifts slightly. You try to turn your head around to see if she's okay. Her head droops over your shoulder, bouncing with the inertia of each step you take. Shifting her weight on your back, you wrench an arm free. She's light enough that you can carry her one-handed. You reach up and pinch her nose, just to see what would happen. For several seconds you hold your grip steady, you wonder if she's breathing at all. She gives no response. Yet suddenly, she opens her mouth with a quiet gasp, mumbling something under her breath. You reposition her head as you walk, using your handle on her nose, so that you can hear her better. Although she continues to breath through her mouth, she doesn't repeat what she said. "--ke.. Snake! Are you listening?" Youmu hits your shoulder. "Huh? What?" You look over. "You say something?" It would seem she's been trying to talk while you were busy messing with Aya. She turns away, facing forward. "No, it's nothing. Nevermind." You reach the dragon statue at the center of town. An idea pops into your head. "Hey, let's stop here for a second." You turn to Youmu. "Hm? Something the matter?" She looks at you, not noticing the dragon statue. "What Remilia said she did earlier, I want to see if it has any affect on this statue." You set Aya down on a nearby bench. "She said I wouldn't notice the effects until tomorrow, but I'd like to give it a try while the moon's still out." Youmu stands beside you as you approach the statue. "What do you have in mind?" She keeps turning back to check on Aya as you stare into the statue's red eyes. "I dunno, I just..." You reach out a hand to touch the statue. As you lay your hand on it, the jeweled eyes seem to glow. You run your fingers down to touch them. Suddenly, a dull pain forms in the back of your head. The eyes begin to glow brighter and brighter, until you're blinded by it's red glow. The glow turns to white, the pain in your head becomes stronger. Stronger, as if something were forcing your head open. Through the intense light, images flash into your mind. River. Village. Forest. Places you've been, people you've seen. Darkness. The black beast from your nightmares. Metal. Blood. Carnage. Visions from the war fill your head Flames licking against your face. The stench of a beast that shouldn't exist. It's red eye pierces you with it's gaze. Something forces you back. Your vision slowly clears. Youmu's holding your wrist. She's pulled your hand from the statue. She's saying something. You can't hear. She looks... worried. She slaps you, your senses return. "Get ahold of yourself!" "Huh? What happened?" No, really. What the hell? "Are you okay?" Youmu's holding your head, pulling you to face her. "Yeah, I'm fine.. I think. What the hell happened?" She lets her arms drop, breathing a sigh of relief. "I don't know. You touched it's eye and then you just... stood there. Just like a statue. You didn't answer when I called out so I thought.." "It's probably nothing, let's go back." You should think first before you talk about it. You don't understand what it means.
>>40980 Suddenly got called into work. Things have been getting busy around here. My schedule's more regular during the week, so I'll try to have something up by tomorrow. I can't really guarantee anything at the moment.
Too much has happened for one day. You're still shaken from the youkai attack in the morning, and now all of this bullshit with fate manipulation and these strange hallucinations happens. You must be losing your mind. Or maybe you've already lost it? You wonder how you've been able to take all the nonsense that's happened so calmly. You hold a hand to your face as if you weren't sure whether you're head's still attached. You turn first to the worried Youmu, and then to the unconscious Aya who's still laying on the bench where you left her. You just want to get back to the house and sleep. You walk over and heft Aya onto your back. "Alright, let's go. I'm tired." You turn to face Youmu, who nods and begins walking back to the schoolhouse. You follow in silence, not sure of what to talk about. It's as if your position in this world suddenly hits you like a speeding train. You think about everything that's happened so far, and wonder silently to yourself what you're even doing here, or why you're so accepting of the strange people living here. Ghosts, demons, monsters--everything you were afraid of as a kid is alive and well in this world, and you're being friendly with them! You push the thoughts from your mind as you usually do. What you've been through in less than a week would be enough to drive a man to drink. And thinking about it too much isn't going to be good for your mind. "Damn." You curse silently to yourself. Thinking of drinking only makes you want to go back into that bar, but you're already standing at the front door of the house. Guess there's no going back now. You follow Youmu in through the front door and set Aya down on the couch. She immediately yet slowly slumps down onto the armrest. You sit next to her, watching Youmu as she walks into the bedroom and shuts the door behind her. You know she's only changing, but you can't help but feel sleepy after sitting on the couch. You stare at the back of Aya's head, looking for any sign of movement. She's out cold. You'd normally take the opportunity to mess with her, but you suddenly feel to worn out to even lift your arm. You fall asleep on the couch.
You find yourself in a dense forest. Looking around, you can see nothing but trees. Your pistol rests holstered at your hip, it's weight feels off. You hear a crackling in your ear. "Listen up, Snake." Yukari directs you through your earpiece, "Keep in mind that this operation is strictly covert. Engagements should be avoided. If you must dispose of an enemy, do it with the tranquilizer gun." You pat your hip. Yup, feels like a tranquilizer gun, whatever the hell that is. You reply, "Yup. Sweet dreams, boy scout." "That's right. And by the time he wakes up, you and Cirno will be safely out of the country..." Country, what country? Oh, right, THAT country! But why the ice fairy? You finish the sentence for her. "Sipping hot coffee on a plane back home." "...What did you say?" She pauses, her voice sounds upset. "Huh?" You heard her, but you don't quite get why she's so upset. "WHAT did you say?" She repeats herself, her voice louder. "Sipping hot coffee on a..." Yeah, that was it, right? "You're going to drink that foul mud? On a victory flight home?" What's wrong with coffee? "Okay, then what would you drink?" You ask. "Tea, of course!" Oh, right. Real men drink TEA. Never mind, your mission is set. You must complete it. You press onwards into the thick underbrush. The branches of bushed and trees hit your face as you force your way through. You wish you had a knife. A really big knife. Something that could turn these plants into pulp in less than a second. Oh, that's right, you DO have one. You reach into your back pocket and draw out a small piece of metal. What the hell is this? You hit it against a tree in frustration. A huge flash of light bursts froth from one end of the device and the forest in front of you disappears into a thick cloud of smoke. The way is clear. You walk forward into the path of destruction. Charred remains of trees lay at your feet. Looking ahead, the edges of several standing trees are charred and smoldering, but you could care less. You run through the path until you reach a very familiar building. You're sure its... "So we meet again, human." A voice from behind? You swing around and find yourself face to face with the youkai you killed earlier in the day, Kazami Yuka. For some reason, she continues her speech, a crooked grin across her otherwise beautiful face. "You caught me off guard before, don't think I'll let it happen again." She laughs to herself, holding a hand to her head where you'd shot her before. "It still hurts, you know." You draw your tranquilizer gun. "I've got something right here that'll hurt much worse." Something gives you the feeling that the tranquilizer gun would hurt much worse than a real one. You don't bother to think about it. You lift the weapon and fire a single round at her. It hits her square on the shoulder. She yells in pain and clutches the dart. Pulling it from her arm, she slowly regains her composure. She looks you in the eye and prepares to say something as-- "Hey guys what's up?" A familiar voice from above her. Cirno floats down from the treetops and onto Yuka's head. "Ah! It's sunflower! How's it goin?" "Get off my head, idiot." She growls, tearing her gaze from you to acknowledge the fairy. "You're the idiot!" Cirno yells, grabbing Yuka's head and rolling it from side to side. "The one who calls people idiot is a bigger idiot!" You remember a very similar conversation you had when you first entered the world of Gensokyo. Yuka tries to grab for the fairy, but misses. "You missed!" Cirno flis over to you, sticking her tongue out at the enraged youkai. "Too bad, this place'll go explody in ten seconds!" "Huh?" You don't quite know what she means. Ten seconds later, there's a blinding flash of white light just on the horizon, and everything around you bursts into flames. The trees are swept away by a heavy wind, and all you see before you in the suddenly desolate world is an uninjured smiling youkai, an equally unhurt and smiling ice fairy, and a plume of smoke in the distance rising up into the clouds.
You slowly wake up. Wow, what an absolutely lame dream that was. You'd rather have had one like the one in the Netherworld. Perhaps you fell asleep funny? The Gods must be laughing at your pitiful existence right about now. You slowly pull yourself up. You're still on the couch, a blanket has been pulled over you. You look to your side to find Aya sleeping beside you. You slowly pull yourself to your feet, covering Aya with the blanket as you stand.
Wondering, are we staying on Aya? Personally I don't mind, but when the mission is over, and we get back to Yuyuko, what then? Will we stay devoted to our future wife, or give in to the ghost princess?
You kiss Aya on the cheek before heading off towards the hallway. Your fatigues are probably done in the wash, and a tuxedo may not be the best thing to wear when heading into the forest. You head through the study and into the utility closet, and pulling the lump of wrinkled clothing from the machine, you head back to the couch. You fold Aya's uniform and place it next to her. You're careful not to wake her up. You lean over and kiss her again, this time on the forehead. She moves her head slightly and groans, but doesn't open her eyes. You head towards the kitchen to make something to eat. Upon reaching the door, you can hear noises from inside the room. You carefully open the door and peek inside. It looks like Youmu's awake and busy making breakfast. You slowly open the door and duck behind a small countertop. Sneaking around into the cooking area, you're greeted with a strange white blob. "Good morning, Snake." Crap! How'd she see you? She didn't even bother to turn around. You stand up. "Morning." The blob follows you as you stand. What the hell is this thing? "Uhh..." "Something wrong?" She turns her head slightly, looking at you through the corner of her eye. "No, nothing. I'm thinking if it would be best to let Aya sleep for now." Her eyes narrow as she turns back to the stove. "Yes, you should. I'm not looking forward to her complaining once she's up." "Complaining?" You cock your head to the side, confused. "You saw how much she drank yesterday?" "Yeah.." You try to look around her, investigating what manner of food she's making. That blob still covers your vision, although you can slightly see through it. Youmu turns around and heads to the refrigerator in the corner of the room. The blob follows her, still 'watching' you with invisible eyes. "If you don't mind, I prefer to work without distractions." Youmu turns opens the door and pulls open a shelf. "Yeah, sure.." She must be telling you to leave. "Are you sure you don't need help?" "This sort of work is nothing. I'll be fine." She pulls something from the refrigerator, closes the door, and heads around back to the stove. The white blob never seems to leave her side.
"Hey, Youmu." "Yes?" "What's that white blob?" She turns from the stove to face you. She raises an eyebrow. "What white blob?" "This one." You attempt to grab the blob in front of you. It's surface puts up a slight resistance before your hand passes through it. Youmu's expression changes. "Y-you can see it?" She grabs the blob and pulls it to her chest. "Yeah. What is it?" You ask, pointing a finger at it. "It's my ghost half." She speaks matter-of-factly, a hint of unease appears on her face. "...but why can you see it?" You scratch your head. "I dunno. Maybe it's got something to do with that thing at the bar?" She lets go of the strange blob. "Maybe. I still have no idea what she..." She pauses and walks over to you. Her face is directly in front of yours. "Uhh... What are you doing?" She's simply staring at you. It makes you feel slightly uneasy. "Hold still." Her eyes meet yours. You hear a sound coming from the door behind you. You try to turn towards it, but Youmu grabs your head and forces it back to face her. "Ahh! My head!" Aya's distressed voice comes from behind you. You can hear her stumble into the room and suddenly stop. "What're you doing?" Her tone of voice suddenly changes. She sounds slightly annoyed. Maybe it's got something to do with your current position? Youmu releases her grip on your head and she turns you to face Aya. "Come over here for a second. Tell me what you think." You follow Aya with your eyes as she staggers over. You notice she's only wearing the white undershirt of the tuxedo she had on before. With each step, you can see her undergarments beneath the unbuttoned shirt. She stands on your feet, leveling her height with yours. Youmu continues, "Look at his eyes." Aya grabs your head like Youmu did. She leans into you for support as she stares into your eyes. Her nose touches your cheek. "Headache?" You ask, trying to lighten the mood. "Like you wouldn't believe." She smiles slightly as she continues her investigation of your face. "How's about a good morning kiss?" You smile back at her. "Not in the mood." She releases her grip on your head and turns to grasp her own. "Ahhh! Somebody kill me!" Youmu steps into your field of vision, facing Aya. "You did it to yourself. Tell me what you think." "Think of what?" Aya covers her eyes and ears, trying to drown out anything that could make her headache worse. "His eyes. What did you see?" Youmu asks, worried about something. "I dunno, he seems fine to me." Aya releases her grip on her head. "He could see my ghost half. Normal humans aren't supposed to be able to do that." You follow Aya as she heads over to the table. You pull out a chair for her. She sits on it backwards, leaning her hands over the backrest. You see Youmu walk back over to the stove as Aya continues. "Yeah, I know." "Hey, what the hell's going on here?" You turn first to Youmu, then back to Aya. "What the hell's wrong with my eyes?" Aya slumps forward over the chair, her unbuttoned shirt opens, revealing the curved shape of her body. She continues to speak to you as you stare at her, tracing the shape of her slim figure with your eyes. "Hey, are you listening?" "Huh? No, sorry." You turn your attention to her face. She continues, showing little sign of her previously overwhelming hangover. "It looks like the vampire was right. Whatever she did, it changed you overnight. Your eyes are probably the first sign of what might happen." "What's wrong with my eyes?" You can't seem to figure out what they're getting at. She looks up at you, her face stern. She speaks with a steady and unwavering voice. "They're red like mine."
Wait, red eyes? You take a minute to think about it. Remilia said it would have happened anyway, although she was a bit shoddy on the details. You turn to Aya. Her expression shows worry, like she's expecting you to break down and cry at any minute. "So..." You speak slowly. She startles, jumping back slightly. "What does this mean? Am I turning into some sort of monster?" "Uh.. No, actually." You feel a small weight lift off your chest. You remember the red-eyed woman you'd shot back at the small cottage. "Then am I changing into a youkai or something?" Aya stands up, slowly. "Yes, probably." She places a hand on your shoulder, as if trying to console some overwhelming feeling of grief. "Are you.. okay?" She looks up at you, worried. "I'm fine." You smile at her. "But could you tell me one thing?" "What is it?" "Does this mean I'm going to start eating people or something? Because I really don't think it'd suit me." You laugh, trying to lighten the mood. Her pained expression makes you feel worse than the thought of becoming a man-eating monster. She smiles, meekly. "I don't think that'll happen. Humans who turn into youkai don't eat other humans." "What makes you so sure?" Youmu asks as she walks over, a plate of food in each hand and one floating on top of that white blob. Upon noticing the food, Aya's expression changes to one of delight. She retakes her seat as Youmu places the food on the table. "Hey, why didn't you do that before?" You say to Youmu as you take a seat next to Aya. "Do what, may I ask?" "That, with the blob." You point to the plate on top of it. "Oh, well... Wouldn't it frighten you to se a plate floating in midair?" "No, probably not. I've seen a lot of scarier things than that." You laugh as you dig into the plate of food in front of you. "Hey, this is pretty good!" "I accept your compliment. It's my own special recipe." She takes a seat across from you. "To continue, as you can now see my other half, there's no need to try and hide it. I was merely trying to take into consideration your feelings as an outsider unused to such things." "Somehow I'm getting the feeling I'm more a part of this world than ever, now." You laugh. "I guess I'm getting used to the weird things here now. But I've still got a question." "What's that?" Aya speaks up, talking between mouthfuls of food. "Do all outsiders eventually turn into Youkai?" "They don't normally live long enough or remain here long enough for anyone to find out. You're a special case in this instance." Youmu replies calmly. "I guess I've got my special training to thank for that. I'd probably be dead if I were a civilian." "Possibly. You've still that promise to uphold." "Promise?" Aya looks up, speaking to Youmu. "Yes." Youmu turns to Aya. "He promised to teach me his style of martial arts, as well as challenging me to a sword match." "Come to think of it, I did say something like that, didn't I. We don't have to do it today, do we?" "No. Any time will do. If you truly do become a youkai, I fear you'll outlive me by a great many years. If you'd be so kind as to uphold the promise before I grow old, I'll be happy." Youmu smiles, taking another bite of the food she made.
"So how old are you, anyway? I'd rather our duel take place when your skills are at their prime." Youmu turns to you, laughing. "My, don't you know it's rude to as a woman her age? I'm pleased to hear you're taking it seriously, but I'd rather our duel be less of a serious matter." Aya looks up from her plate again. "Yeah, yeah. She'd probably kill you if she got serious." You laugh as Youmu responds. "It's unlikely. Though out first duel was without weapons, he had shown a level of skill I've never seen before. I was serious then, and he had beaten me fairly." "Oh? That's impressive. After all, he's my man, so he's gotta be strong." Aya laughs along with you. "That reminds me, you'd said something earlier." You turn to Aya. "That was?" She looks at you, curiously. "That whole thing about humans an Youkai not being able to have kids.." You try to think of a way to word the question. "Oh, I think I know what you're saying." She narrows her eyes, grinning at you slyly. "Wanna find out?" Her openness catches you by surprise. You jumble your words, searching for an answer. She laughs. "Caught ya off guard, didn't I?" "Yeah, you kinda did. I'm up for the challenge, though." "Hehe, he's so cute when he's flustered." Aya looks to Youmu as she points in your direction. Youmu simply ignores her and begins to clean up the empty plates. You drag Aya off into the bedroom as Youmu begins cleaning the kitchen. You close the bedroom door behind you and begin to pull off the tuxedo you're wearing. Aya stars as you do this. "What, now?" She covers her mouth, surprised. "No, not now. If you hadn't noticed, Youmu was all set to leave back there, and we're still half dressed." Aya looks down at herself. "You were staring the whole time, weren't you?" She opens her shirt slightly, showing off. "I was." You finish undressing and notice your and Aya's fatigues sitting folded on the bed. "How'd those get there?" Aya shrugs, but her expression shoes otherwise. You grab your outfit and put it on quickly as Aya watches. You stop for a second. "You gonna just sit there or are you gonna get dressed?" She crosses her arms. "You got a good look at me this morning, so now it's my turn." She smiles, motioning for you to continue. "And what happened to that hangover of yours?" You button up the shirt. "Tengu are youkai too. I've already gotten over it." You finish dressing while she speaks. "Ehh? That was it? Jeez, you're too fast. That wasn't sexy at all!" "Stop complaining and get dressed." You throw her clothes at her.
The grey camouflage lump hits her in the face, covering her head. You sit on the bed as she pulls it from her face. She stares at you wryly as you cross your arms and wait. "What are you doing?" You smile. "It's my turn to watch." She walks over to you, taking off her white shirt and placing it on your head. "You've had your turn." You slowly pull her shirt from your head. "So I had another question." "Hmm? And that was..." She says, struggling to put her first foot through the leg of her pants. "I was just curious. You said you were part crow, right?" "I did. What about it?" She struggles with her second foot. "So if you're part bird, do you lay eggs?" Her pants around her ankles, she turns quickly to face you. "What the he-AHHH!" She stumbles, losing her balance and falling backwards into you. You catch her by the shoulders, her body weight knocks you onto your back. "You alright?" You sit up with her on top of you. "Yeah, thanks." She quickly pulls herself to her feet, pulling her pants up and turning once more to face you. She's blushing, slightly. "What the hell kind of question is that?" "I'm curious." You look up as she leans forward, leveling her head with yours. "I'm a Tengu! I don't lay eggs like some bird youkai." She narrows her eyes, slightly. "Don't ask any more embarrassing questions like that, okay?" "Yeah, sure." You grin. "But after all we've done together, I didn't think you'd get embarrassed by something like that." She scowls, turning away from you. "That was that. It's a whole other matter. You should concentrate on yourself right now." "I feel fine. I don't think you should worry about me." You stand up, handing the camouflage shirt to her. She grabs it from your hand. "Who said I'm worried? I'm not worried." "Then is something else the matter?" You put a hand on her shoulder. "Other than you asking me weird questions, no." She turns to face you, a faint smile crosses her lips. "But you didn't know, so I'll forgive you. Now could you let me get changed?" She nods to your hand on her shoulder. You pull your hand back and head for the door. "Alright, I gotta take care of something anyway. I'll be back in a bit." "I'll have your stuff ready when you get back, then." She puts on the shirt as you leave the room. You head straight for the bathroom. There's gotta be a mirror in there. You want to see for yourself if your eyes are really red or not. You open the door and head for the sink. Sure enough, there's a small round mirror over it. You stare into it, looking yourself in the eyes. "Damn, I'm lookin' good!" But that's beside the point. Your eyes really are red, although you probably wouldn't have noticed it at first glance. Your iris has become a deep shade of red, and upon closer inspection the shape has changed slightly, too. They're more cat-like than human now, although you could argue semantics and say they're snake-like. At least they're not glowing like the youkai woman's eyes yesterday. You carefully look over the rest of your face, looking for anything else out of the ordinary. Your teeth, your ears, your nose, everything appears normal. You admire yourself for a minute. You really do look better with a beard.
Satisfied that you're mostly normal, you head back to the bedroom to check on your gear. Walking into the room, you find your gear bag sitting on the bed. Aya is nowhere to be found. You open the bag. The contents seem to have been organized. You make a mental note of everything you have on-hand.
1 Gear bag (Bedroom) 1 Black headband (Pocket, +3 badass skill) 1 Camouflage BDU (Equipped, +50% Index in woodlands) 1 Nitori rifle (Infinite ammunition, powered by IMAGINATION) 1 Dark grey camouflage BDU (Equipped - Aya, +80% Index in dark places) 1 Yuyuko-pattern kimono (Equipped - Youmu, +110% Carefree index) 1 Black trench coat (Equipped - Youmu) 1 Damascus knife 1 Compass 1 Length of rope 1 Entrenching tool (Sharpened) 10 Hand grenades (Unknown type) 1 Customized M1911A1 pistol 2+75 Pictures (Note attached) 5 M1911 mags (+2 spare rounds) 1 Butterfly pendant (Equipped, unknown effect) 8 Canned food 1 Mess kit 1 Camouflage paint kit (+50% Index in woodlands) 1 Small tent (3 people max capacity) 2 Youkai monocle
You examine a large stack of pictures. Most are of embarrassing moments that occurred yesterday. You should probably find out why Youmu lost it, although it's not too important at the moment. You close the bag and start to gather your gear. You put the knife back in your boot, as it seems to fit well there. The pistol sits holstered on your belt, as it's always been carried. The compass and monocles are in your pockets, in case you'll need them. You heft the bag onto your back and sling the rifle over your shoulder. You head out into the hallway and look for the others. As usual, they're waiting for you by the front door. "Slow as usual." Youmu stands in the open doorway, arms crossed impatiently. "If you want to scold me for being slow, you could at least help carry some of this stuff." You hold out a small pack used for carrying the tent. She grabs it from your hand. "Very well. Now, let's be on our way." You follow her outside. The morning sun hurts your eyes. You're not sure if it's because your eyes are changing, or if it's just the transition from indoors to outdoors. You shield your face. "We'll need to head back the way we came. There's a fork in the road just up the ways. The left pass will take us deep into the forest." You can see Youmu pointing to the path above the rice fields. Even from here it's visible. "I heard there's a shop around here that sells tobacco. I'd like to stop by." You remember what Mokou said earlier. "Got any money?" You uncover your eyes and turn to Youmu. The sun doesn't bother you nearly as much. "'fraid not." "Hey, if it's Kourindou you're talking about ,you don't need money!" Aya walks over and stands just beside you. "That would be stealing, would it not?" Youmu narrows her eyes, concentrating her gaze on Aya. "It's fine, it's fine. The shopkeeper won't bother to stop us, anyway. Reimu and Marisa do it all the time!" Aya laughs at some inside joke. "Indeed, I remember reading about it in that gossip rag you call a newspaper." "My paper is a respectable publication! Don't treat it like some piece of garbage!" Aya's cheerful expression disappears, turning to one of aggression. "Is it now?" Youmu's eyes narrow further. If she narrows her eyes any further they'll be closed. You begin to feel the argument getting out of hand. "Alright, alright. That's enough. We should get going." "Indeed." Youmu turns to face forward and begins walking without another word. Aya makes a rude face at Youmu's back as you follow her back up to the path. You follow Youmu through familiar terrain. You head back through the village gates, up the path on the side of the cliff, and stop at the small house you passed by earlier. "This is the place." Youmu turns to face the building, her expression indicates to you that she doesn't like whatever is inside. "I suggest you make your errand quick."
You walk inside the building. A small bell chimes as you open the door. Looking around, you see walls upon walls of junk, some of which you're familiar with. The store appears devoid of life, save for a woman in red browsing the wares in front of the register. You examine the first wall's top shelf to get an idea of what the store may carry. You see an automobile's crankshaft, a small dagger, a green sheet of unfamiliar material with metal bits sticking out of it, and a small grey machine that appears to be similar to the device Komachi gave you earlier. That's right, you had something like that. You'd completely forgotten it in your inventory count. You pull the device from one of your jacket pockets and compare it to the device. The buttons on the box are in the shape of a small circle, and you have no idea what it does. You put the phone away and begin your search for anything of interest. "Find anything?" You turn around, startled. Aya's standing behind you. "Lemme know if you find any film." "Film? Like for a camera?" You turn back to face the wall, examining another strange device on one of the shelves. "Yeah. Something that says '35mm' on the canister will work." She taps you on the shoulder and begins walking to the other side of the room. You call out to her, "Let me know if you see any good weapons." Continuing your search, you find several more automotive parts. If you tried, you could probably put together an entire engine, minus a few parts, from what they've got here. You notice a kitchen sink in the corner of the room, and you walk over to investigate that part of the store. You find two 30-round SMG magazines. One of them is half-full of bullets and.. "Hey, these are mine!" They're definitely yours. You recognize several of the marks on them, and you grab them immediately. Suspicious, you look around for more of your stuff. Somehow, they must've made their way from the mountain shrine to this store. You take the bullets from them and place the empty magazines back on the shelf. You count 17 rounds total. You look around quickly, and upon seeing nobody you stuff the ammo into your pocket. You return to your search. You notice Aya speaking with the woman roaming throughout the store, but you can ignore it for now. You're on a mission, and supplies are just as important as intelligence. Although this store doesn't have much of use. You wander around for several minutes, finding a rack of swords, two cases of film, several .22 rounds, a firestarter, and a device that looks similar to the one from your last dream sitting on the counter. You walk over to it. "Please don't touch that. It's not for sale." You hear a man's voice coming from a stairway tucked away behind the counter. You see the lower half of the man walking backwards down the steps. He appears to be pulling on something stuck in the room at the top of the stairway. He curses to himself as he pulls on it. For now, you might as well leave it be. You walk over to Aya and hand her the film canisters. She examines them carefully as the woman walks over to the counter. "Hmm.. It's a little old, but I suppose it'll do. Was that all you found?" "I found some of my old gear, too." She feigns surprise in jest, laughing to herself as she speaks. "How odd. It's not like Rinnosuke to buy stolen property." "Somehow I feel you're familiar with the place?" "I did a story on his business practices once. He'll buy anything from anyone, even if he knows it's stolen." She laughs, looking over to the counter. You notice the man from earlier is now standing at the counter speaking to the woman. You walk over behind the two, listening to their conversation while waiting in a sort of line. A strange greyish-colored box sits on the counter. "..sorry, but that's all I have at the moment. Things like this don't come in too often." "I see. It's an old model, but it'll work. Let me know if you get a new one in." "I'll see what I can do." The man lifts the box and hands it to the woman. She carries it effortlessly from the building. "What can I do for you, young man?" Funny, he looks to be only slightly older than you. "I'm looking for some cigarettes, and ammunition for one of these." You pull out the pistol, remove the magazine, and place them both on the counter. The man cocks his eyebrow. "Well, cigarettes I can help you with, but I'm not familiar with this machine. It's certainly a firearm, but..." "I guess just cigarettes then." You shrug, reloading the pistol and replacing it in it's holster. "What brands you go here?" "Brands?" The man gives you a confused look. "Would you, by any chance, be from the outside world?" "If I tell you, will you tell me what you know about this dragon incident I've been hearing about?" You watch as the man pulls out a box full of loose tobacco and rolling paper. "I could tell you what I know. Frankly, it's not much. I'm about as informed as the other villagers here are, so all I know is that one was seen flying towards the lake." "I see. Could you tell me who saw it? If you know, that is." "Nobody seems to know. Rumors started about nine days ago. The village was evacuated the day after that, and that evening Marisa comes running in yelling about a giant flying mushroom or something." He pauses for a second. "Excuse me, Marisa is an acquaintance of mine. You may have met her before?" "I don't think I have." You sift through the box, looking for any ready-made cigarettes. You find a box of cigars. "Hey, this looks good. How much?" "You can have it if you want. It's been in there for ages, and I don't think anybody knows what to do with it." "That's awfully nice of you." The man turns his attention to the side as he notices Aya waving from behind you. "You're not here for an interview, are you? I'd hate to be subject to that humiliation two times in a row." "Nah, I'm just getting some supplies. This guy here's gonna be on the next front page!" She pats you on the shoulder. "Why would you say that?" She leans over the counter, grinning. "Classified information." "I see. So what'll it be then? If you're not using it to spread more lies about my shop I wont charge you for it right away." She stands up straight, crossing her arms. "Wha~t? You won't gimme a freebie like you did him?" He stands there, calmly. "I won't. If you remember, I'm still mad at you over that article. Even if nobody reads it I've still my pride to consider." You return to browsing the store's wares as she argues with the man. Returning to the rack of swords near the back, you find several small pistols in a glass case. "Find anything?" You jump to the side, turing to face Youmu. "Jeez, would you guys stop doing that?" You sigh, heavily. Ignoring you, she turns to face the wall of swords. "Hmm. He still hasn't sold this one? I'm not surprised, the quality of work is inferior." She pulls the blade from it's sheath, swings it a few times, and places it back on the shelf as it were before. "Well, I found a box of cigars, but that's about it." You shrug, looking at the handguns. Most of them are small-caliber, and several are of makes unfamiliar to you. You notice a Luger sitting in the corner. "Never expected to see one of these here." You bring Youmu's attention to bear on the weapon. "What is it?" "A weapon from my time. I've taken a bullet from one of these before." You lift up your right sleeve to show off the scar you have on your forearm. You remember where it was, but you can't seem to find it. "Huh. Well, I can't seem to find the scar. Maybe it's the light." "Maybe that has something to do with the eyes as well?" Youmu continues to look at the swords, one by one, as she speaks. "Maybe. I've never heard of scars just disappearing like that." You pull your sleeve back down and head over to the front counter. Youmu follows you even though she hasn't finished looking through the swords. You notice Aya and the clerk have ended their argument over God-knows-what, and that she's standing by the door, waiting.
[x] Lament the loss of your badges of war. [x] Thank the shopkeeper and make a mental note to buy this man a drink when this is all over. [x] Upon leaving, ask Aya if this was the only man in Gensokyo before you showed up.
[x] Lament the loss of your badges of war. [x] Thank the shopkeeper and make a mental note to buy this man a drink when this is all over. [x] Upon leaving, ask Aya why women seem to be the dominant power on this world.
[x] Lament the loss of your badges of war. [x] Thank the shopkeeper and make a mental note to buy this man a drink when this is all over. [x] Upon leaving, ask Aya why women seem to be the dominant power on this world.
Tell me Aya, why are all the most powerful beings in this place women?
[z] Lament the loss of your badges of war. [z] Thank the shopkeeper and make a mental note to buy this man a drink when this is all over. [z] Upon leaving, ask Aya why women seem to be the dominant power on this world.
[x] Lament the loss of your badges of war. [x] Thank the shopkeeper and make a mental note to buy this man a drink when this is all over. [x] Upon leaving, ask Aya why women seem to be the dominant power on this world.
Aya looks like she's in a hurry to leave. Maybe the argument didn't go well for her. You head for the door, thanking the shopkeeper for the cigars as you leave. You'll owe the guy a drink after this mess is over. You're still curious about the scar's disappearance, though. Heading out into the sunlight, you take another look. It seems to have vanished. You check several other notable scars on your body, all of which seem to have vanished. You wonder why that is. You've no real proof of your past injuries now, so you can't help buy feel a little sad. You follow Youmu further down the path and past the shrine. You remember the vast majority of locals you've encountered have all been female. You turn to Aya. "Hey, another question." She sighs. "I hope it's not another weird one. I'm not answering any more weird questions." "No, it's perfectly normal." You grin at the temptation to ask another off-beat question. "What I want to know is this. Why are all the most powerful people in this world female?" She pauses, thinking of an answer. "I can't say for certain. What I can tell you are that the strongest beings in this world are mostly male." She floats up onto your pack, returning to her favorite seat. "For instance, the highest caste and greatest Tengu warriors are all men. They rarely leave the compound, so you'll probably never see one. "Youkai are a different story. For some reason, humanoid youkai are almost always female. You'd be the first male youkai I've seen that's not incredibly tall or animal-shaped. That is, if you're a youkai at all. Youkai have red eyes, so I'm just making an assumption based on that. You don't have any control over the elements like the rest of them, so who knows." She stops her explanation as you reach the fork in the road. You follow Youmu down the left path. You remember coming from the other direction earlier. Looking further down it, you see a strange mist clouding the end of the path as it enters the forest. It falls from view as you begin down the other path into the forest. Ahead of you, the path descends into a dark, densely wooded area. Many of the trees seem to emit a strange ephemeral glow from the leaves, lighting only the area directly around them. Youmu shows no hesitation and leads you through the darkness. The path curved slightly, and upon entering the tree cover becomes perfectly straight. The plants around you light the path, and you can see clearly ahead of you. Further ahead, you pass a large boulder covered in paper ornaments. You notice the woman from the shop standing in front of it, the box she was carrying at her feet. She glances in your direction as you pass by. Further down the path, you stumble across a small open field. A wind seems to come from between the trees, blowing the tall grass around you. You see a small building ahead of you. Youmu stops in the middle of the field. "Well start here. There's a few more houses further down the path, and we'll work our way towards them. If we continue down this path, we'll pass through the Border and eventually come to the lake." "Okay. But what was that rock back there?" You're curious to find out. "It's unimportant. Let's go." She motions for you to follow her to the house. "Hey, hey." Aya jumps down off your pack and walks along side you. "Are you gonna do any more of that sneaky stuff?"
"Maybe, but I'd like to know what that rock was, first." You turn back to face Youmu as you speak. "So, what was it? Every detail may be important on this mission." "If you insist." Youmu sighs, "That was the sealed gate to the Demon Realm, or Makai. There's no way to pass through it. Reimu sealed it up many years ago. Not even Yukari can get us in there. For that reason, it's unimportant. To us, it's little more than a rock. I believe I mentioned it earlier." "Did you? I remember you saying something about a sealed gate to the Netherworld, but nothing about a demon world." "Is that so?" Youmu angles her head to the side. "It is possible. I tend to confuse the names of the two, even though I live in one." "So who was that woman, then?" Aya speaks up from beside you. "I'm not all-knowing. The woman's identity is a mystery to me. If it so concerns you, why not go back and ask?" Youmu's response doesn't seem to impress Aya. "So yeah, whatever. Back to the sneaky stuff." The two turn to face you as Aya finishes speaking. "I do believe it won't be necessary. I am familiar with the beings that live in these houses. We only need knock on their front door." Youmu, the voice of reason. "Here! Use this and sneak through the chimney!" Aya hands you the face paint from your bag. "As much as I'm good at sneaking around, I like the other option better. The last time we broke into somebody's place we almost died, remember?" You take the face paint from Aya and stuff it in your pocket. A look of disappointment washes over her face. "I agree. I'd rather not have a repeat of that again. Even if the residents here are far weaker than Yuka." "Oh? Weak, are we?" "Yes, weak. In any case, we should get going." Youmu turns toward the house, ignoring the stranger she just replied to. "Hey, Youmu. Who's this?" You point to the girl dressed in white and black. You didn't even notice her show up. "Who's who?" She turns around to face you. As she spots the girl, her expression instantly changes. "When did you get here?!" "I've been here the whole time. Guess you didn't notice, me being weak and all." The girl laughs. "Strange company you got here today. What's the occasion?" "Something about a dragon." Aya walks in front of you, "Seen one lately?" "What's with that getup, Aya?" The girl points and snickers. "How do I look?" Aya shows off, joking with the girl. "Like you watched too many war movies." She turns to face you. "Say, who's the new guy?" "Snake." You hold out your hand. "Weird name. You youkai?" She grabs your hand, shaking it wildly. "Name's Marisa. A pleasure, I guess. 'Nuff standin' around here, let's go inside!" She motions toward the house at the end of the field and begins to walk towards it. The three of you follow close behind. Once inside, you set your gear bag down and sit at a large table in the center of an extremely messy room. The table seems to be the only clean piece of furniture in the entire building. Strewn across the floor are various odds and ends, with books plied in throughout the room.
"So what's with the mess?" You ask, directing the question to nobody in particular. "She's just that kind of person." Youmu answers from her seat next to you. Marisa disappeared somewhere into the mess several minutes earlier, mumbling something about drinks. You wait for her to return. "Sorry to keep ya guys waitin'!" She returns to the table with several cups of tea, walking effortlessly over the mess. "It's fine." From the other side of you, Aya speaks. "More importantly, do something about this mess, would you?" "Everyone says that. It's no big deal 'cuz I don't get a lot of visitors." Marisa sits across from the three of you, grinning from ear to ear the entire time. "Right to business then." You'd rather not be here too long. There's a strange smell coming from one of the rooms to the side. "I'm looking for a dragon. Would you have any idea where I could find one?" "Dragon, huh?" She shrugs, "Why don't you look in the sky? There's small ones flying around all the time. The big ones never come out." "I'm getting the feeling we're looking for one of the big ones." "'Getting the feeling,'" She leans forward over the table, "You don't know what you're looking for? Why're you lookin' for a dragon?" Guess there's no use trying to hide it. You explain to her the fact that you're an outsider and the mission Yukari sent you on. She sits back, nodding to herself as you speak. "That gap demon's at it again, eh?" She laughs. "So, do you know where to find one?" You lean forward and rest your head on your hands. Her expression turns serious, the hint of her previous smile remains. "Not really. I heard about the thing in the village, but I don't think a dragon like that'd stay out for long. It's probably underground sleepin' like a baby." "How would I wake it up or find it?" "You'd just have to make enough noise for it to come out, or wait for the right time of year. The thing'll pop out on it's own if it's hot or cold enough for its liking." "So knowing all this, why would Yukari bother sending us out like this?" "She's a meddler. Messing with other people's business is what she does. Like there's this one time that she-" "We've heard about it many times aready." Youmu speaks up, "On another matter, Rinnosuke said something about a giant mushroom you saw. I'm curious." "Kourin did?" She smiles again, "I did say somethin' like that, didn't I? So I looked up in the sky after the townsfolk got out and I saw this thing floatin' in the sky. Looked like a giant mushroom, I said!" You think for a second, "I came in through parachute. Would that have anything to do with it?" "Para-what? I dunno, but someone was in it, so I don't think it's for eatin'. I flew in to take a look and there was a guy on the bottom of it! Come to think of it, he looked kinda like ya, although he's dressed a lot weirder. Think I saw the clothes at Kourin's last time I was there." She motions with her arms as she speaks, trying to draw the shape of the object in the air.