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"But I've told you this all before. Do you really need to hear it again?"

"I need it on record." She says with a smile, ignoring my frustration.

Well, maybe even frustration would be a stretch. It's more like the feeling you'd get after being bitten by a mosquito. Insignificant, really, but she could at least acknowledge it.

"Fine, fine." I shrug, laying the blame on this voice recorder box for putting me in this situation in the first place. "It was about a year ago. I'm really not quite sure; without a calendar in sight, I've kinda lost track."

I break for a slight pause, thinking to myself for a moment. Silently, she urges me to continue. Dammit, I just can't win against that smile!

So I take a few minutes out of my time and explain to her exactly what happened. It's simple, really. That is, if you're completely insane and/or have been abusing morphine. I guess you gotta suspend disbelief indefinitely if you plan on living a good, sane life in this world.

Gensokyo, as the locals call it. I'd attribute it more to the Garden of Eden, plus magic and the ever-present man-eating monsters called youkai. Well, youkai is a general term, it seems; used to refer to any and all creatures that don't quite fit the bill of normalcy. Immortals, inhuman monsters, demons, angels--they're all youkai to the local townsfolk.

This woman before me, of course, is one of them. A Tengu she calls herself. And though I'm not quite familiar with the legend and lore behind the race, what I do know is this:

They like to talk a lot. And I mean a lot. They're a proud race of near-immortals, and they make sure nobody forgets it. Hell, some of them even go out of their way to prove their superiority over others.

And this girl is no exception--the self-proclaimed "Fastest in Gensokyo", though fastest what I'm not sure. I'm sure it's only meant as a joke. I get the feeling that she doesn't honestly believe herself to be such, but she sure likes to talk about it.

Though, for once, she's actually staying completely silent and letting me speak my mind. Probably, it's because she doesn't want her voice recorded by this machine she brought home.

Her name is Aya Shameimaru, and I've been living together with her ever since the incident was resolved. I guess you could say she's my wife. Well, that is, if it wasn't for the undeniable fact that Tengu laws prohibit marriage between their kind and what they call the lesser races. Those would be, of course, everybody but other Tengu. It's become a bone of contention between her and the rest of the folks up here on the mountain, but she tries not to let it get to her. But, putting all that aside for a moment..

As I listen to myself talk, I start to laugh. Hell, if you heard what I was saying, you'd probably have me committed. I'd probably have me committed, too, were it not for the sheer lack of asylums in Gensokyo and the undeniable fact that what I'm talking about really did take place.

Gensokyo was invaded, according to the words of one Hakurei priestess. Invaded by what, we're all still not sure. Contact between us and them was limited strictly to small skirmishes with some manner of mechanical drones sent out from a large ship in the mountains.

Though, as straight-forward as it sounds, it only gets stranger from there. A small scouting party, consisting of myself, Aya, and one other named Youmu Konpaku was sent to investigate what Reimu, the aforementioned Hakurei priestess, had referred to as The Mothership since she first saw it fly over the mountains. I suppose it fits.

But we never found it. The drones stopped coming, and everything just seemed to sort itself out. This, of course, didn't sit well with Reimu, who had over time developed a mentality that these incidents could only be solved by her direct intervention. If you want something done right, et cetera.

So she got angry, threw a bit of a tantrum, and during it all, she somehow managed to connect the appearance of this mysterious ship to my appearance in Gensokyo. Oh, sure, so it had become my doing, had it? Well, I tried my hardest not to take it personally. She was upset, right?

Well, that all went right out the window when she threw down the gauntlet. I was given a thorough introduction to danmaku that day. And, for those who don't have any clue whatsoever as to what exactly danmaku is, well.. it hurts. Probably about as much as getting shot in the face, though the damage taken is minimal by comparison.

So I was thoroughly beaten down that day, much to the horror and surprise of one such "Fastest in Gensokyo". Long story short, the case was considered closed, and everybody went back about their respective lives. The end, right?

Well, not quite. I'm still here, alive and well. Yes, that's right, alive. Between the end of that duel and sometime within the last year, all of the abilities I'd found myself possessing seem to have vanished. I suppose it has something to do with those strange amulets I kept finding all over the place. Funny how you can just walk to the town market one day and find a super-power granting piece of jewelry sitting just on the side of the road just waiting to be picked up. And here people wonder where all these youkai come from.. So I guess this is that kind of world.

So, aside from a few minor details, I'm perfectly normal. And, in this world, it would seem that perfectly normal would include such things as the ability to fly, the ability to create large showers of projectiles with mere a thought, and some such. Wings may or may not be included on the list.

Yep, perfectly normal.

"That ought to do it," Aya says, smiling her usual smile as she takes away the device.

"Hm?" I look up. Though I wasn't paying complete attention to what's going on, I'm able to gather enough from her body language. Interview's over, time to get back to work. Something along those lines.

The sun shines brightly through the window facing East. Still morning, it would seem. I've always liked how this place was set up like a giant sundial. One window on the East side, and one on the West. Whichever one the sun shines brightest through will give the indication of morning or evening. Between all that boasting about how great they are, the Tengu are some very clever engineers. It shows, even inside a one-room wooden shack like this one.

"Hey, you be a good boy, alright?" Aya jokes, heading for the door, "I've gotta go process this, so I'll probably be gone the rest of the day."

And I was going to say something about a goodbye kiss, but she's already gone out the door. "Fastest in Gensokyo" indeed. I hope I never have to find out how fast she'd out of my life if something were to go wrong. Thankfully, there hasn't been an issue worthy of note since the day we met, so no problems there. She's surprisingly easygoing, for what I've seen of Tengu.

Of course, that leaves me all by my lonesome, to do with the rest of the day as I please. I suppose I could..

[ ] Visit the Netherworld for old time's sake
[ ] Go to the Moriya shrine to pray
[ ] Go into the village to buy some supplies
[ ] Go visit Aya at work
[ ] Run out into the woods to live the life of a hermit
[ ] Visit the Netherworld for old time's sake
[X] Visit the Netherworld for old time's sake
[ ] Visit the Netherhood for old time's sake
Delicious Crow Tengu Waifu~
[ ] Visit the Netherworld for old time's sake.

>Between the end of that duel and sometime within the last year, all of the abilities I'd found myself possessing seem to have vanished. I suppose it has something to do with those strange amulets I kept finding all over the place.

[ ] Run out into the woods to live the life of a hermit

This is just out there.
[~] Visit the Netherworld for old time's sake.

[x] Go to the Moriya shrine to pray

I like this.

There is still plenty of IMAGINATION, just a bit less of it~


Well, it's a bit of a stretch, but maybe it'd be nice to see an old comrade in arms. That Youmu seems so busy with her work up there that she never seems to have time to leave.

The journey's rather short--the Netherworld being just a little more than a mile away. I haven't measured the exact distance, but it seems accurate enough. But, just in case I'm late, it would probably be best to leave a note for Aya. There's plenty of discarded paper and pens lying around, so it makes for an incredibly easy task. Now all that's left to do is to grab my coat and I'm outta here!

And though it's the middle of spring, up here in the mountains it still feels like the dead of winter. Early mornings are especially brutal--cold enough that frost will sometimes form on the windows even during the summer. Whether this is the God's work or just part of life up high on the tallest peak in Gensokyo remains to be discovered. I know that Kanako's always up to something. So long as it keeps her entertained and doesn't bother anyone..

The trip is rather routine--no more than a quick flight from one mountaintop to the next. Though, looking down on the world reminds me of a time not too long ago where I'd be walking the entire way. It's been long enough that I've gotten a bit more used to flying everywhere--the simple fact that the Netherworld would be inaccessible without the ability makes it all the more essential for my trip.

Though, one thing I'll never get used to is the wind. It's hard for me to keep my eyes open up this high. The atmosphere is thinner here, and the wind is far stronger. For that reason alone, I tend to keep closer to the ground. I'll leave the high flying to the Tengu.

Speaking of which, I can almost see their city from here. As I round the mountain to gain a proper heading, the smog from their industrial district darkens the sky. I try to steer clear of this, too. I'm not willing to test my mortality quite yet, after all.

And a few minutes later, it's nothing but clear forest below me. I plow through the occasional cloud on my way, blowing it apart and sending some of the vapors flying in my wake. I should say it's exhilarating, but after doing it so many times I just think to myself, "Oh, another cloud."

Once I see the river, and the entrance to the Kappa city--the name of which I can never seem to remember--I know I'm getting close. Pretty soon, I see the base of that grandiose staircase leading up into the heavens. At the end of which is an equally grandiose and massive golden doorway at the end. Yup, this is the place.

I set down just in front of the enormous set of doors, which seem to open automatically as my feet touch the top step. A clever trick, made possible by a simple magic. Youmu explained it to me a while back, but I've since lost track of the details. Simply put, touch the top step, door opens.

Saves me the trouble of knocking, I suppose. I just walk right on in like always.

The sight that awaits me on the other side never ceases to amaze me. Row upon row of cherry blossom trees, always in bloom no matter what the season. It's beauty is astounding, overwhelming even to an average soldier like myself. Well, I'm not exactly average, but neither is the sight I'm seeing. A man could die happy here, though I suppose that's half the point. The trees hardly even show signs of Youmu's overly-meticulous method of care, though I can see them if I look closely.

My main objective is, however, the large Japanese-styled palace in front of me. Youmu's almost certain to be inside. Her master is always present there, so searching for her would be a bit easier. But... She's a strange woman, that's for sure. If at all possible, I'd like to--

"You there! Stop where you are!"

And it looks like Youmu found me first. Her high-pitched sylph-like voice rings clear through the trees, and stops me dead in my path. Though, I can't see her in the direction her voice was coming from. It's possible she's merely acting on suspicion. She's been acting a little strange ever since the incident was resolved.

[ ] Hide.
[ ] Stand still.
[ ] ?
[ ] Stand still.
[ ] Stand still.
[ ] Listen. See if you can pin-point her location.
[ ] Stand still.
[X] Stand still.

So, is this a new story or a short epilogue?
[X] Stand still.

Back in action ... with style.
>She's been acting a little strange ever since the incident was resolved.
And it's shown she was acting weird then, too.

[x] Stand still.
[x] "It's just me, Youmu."

I'm leaning more towards a new story.
I shouldn't have to run or hide. Common sense dictates as much, and I know well enough how adversely she can take a good prank. Not much humor in her, though I suppose it comes with the job of serving that brilliant joker Saigyouji.

And it's about this time I see her poke her head out from behind one of the trees. She walks forward, blade drawn, and ready for anything. Even if I wanted to, I doubt she'd leave me with any chance to escape.

"Hold it right the-Ah!" Her stern order is cut short, and her face shows surprise as she finally realizes exactly who it is she's facing. I find it funny, considering how rarely I get to see her caught so off-guard. Though, despite all that, this round-faced, soft-spoken girl before me is certainly none other than the Youmu I remember.

"S-Snake?" She takes a cautious step forward, her blade back in it's sheath sooner than I can blink. "What are you doing here?" She asks hesitantly, now only feet from my person. "I thought you were one of-"

"No surprise there," I reply, butting in a little rudely, knowing full well what she's about to say. I'm dressed like a Tengu and there's wings sticking out of my back. What else could she possibly think I am but one of them? "I just dropped by to say 'hi', if it's no trouble."

"No trouble at all!" She gives a forceful answer, awkwardly grabbing my hand and pulling me off into one of the many groves of trees. Her words and actions seem a little.. disjointed, as if there is a problem, but she's visibly hesitant to tell me about it. I wonder if I should try to pry, but quickly give up once her outstretched hand points my eyes in the direction of the villa's veranda.

Sitting on the porch next to a certain Yuyuko, calmly sipping at a cup of what I can only presume is tea, is none other than our good friend, Yukari. Even the sight of her makes my skin crawl a bit. Not in fear, no, not that at all. Anger, I should say, though it's more of a grudge I've been holding since that wild goose chase she sent me on early last year.

Find a dragon, she told me. And find one I did, though after a bit of explanation on her part, I learned that she didn't actually expect me to find one at all. What a bitch, right? Of course, shortly thereafter I found myself in a whole heap of other troubles which would take me the greater part of a day to explain, but most of which were the fault of these two women. So, to put it bluntly, Yuyuko Saigyouji and Yukari Yakumo are two women I'd like nothing better than to never see again in my life.

Though, with them sitting right in front of me, I find that a little hard to achieve. What else should I expect? I came up here on my own accord, knowing that one or both of them may be present. I shouldn't complain, though the sight of them still serves to sour my mood. So, I do the best thing I can think of--I turn to Youmu.

And upon catching sight of her, wide-eyed and staring at me with her face only inches from mine, I fall over backwards. Damn, wasn't expecting that! Was she staring at me the entire time? This is, of course, what I meant when I said she'd been acting weird.

"You okay?" She asks, still staring down at me as I pull myself back up to standing. I brush off a few flecks of dirt which, thankfully, didn't stain the white robes I'm wearing.

"Fine, thanks." I say a little absent-mindedly, "Why were you-"

"Myy~" A familiar voice calls, "What have we here~?"

"Yukari.." I answer plainly, trying to hide my frustration at being spotted so easily. Damn, if only I'd been wearing camouflage and not this red, black, and white tri-colored robe! "So, you saw me."

"No," Her response surprises me. "I set up a detection field when I came in this morning."

Magic, again? Now, there's one thing I know absolutely nothing about. Well, I shouldn't say nothing, considering the facts that I'm able to fly just as well as most Tengu, and that I've figured out how to handle these so-called 'spellcard rules' that seems to govern how any and all manner of disputes are handled in Gensokyo.

"So even if I tried to.." I'd have no way to hide from her. I've heard of methods to combat the effects of such fields, but I'm far too unskilled to create something to that extent.

"Nope~" She replies plainly, with a clear hint of amusement to her voice. Again, taking pleasure in other people's shortcomings, I see? Some people never change, even after the many tens of thousands of years through which this woman must have lived.

"I'd appreciate if you didn't use such impractical spells here, miss Yakumo." Youmu chimes in to me defense, though I doubt she's figured in how her words may affect the gap-lady's demeanor. "It's bad for the trees."

"Really?" Yukari replies with a disbelieving undertone. "They're that fragile?"

"Absolutely!" Youmu answers with enough force to send the woman nearly falling from her floating seat. How Yukari is able to plant her ass so firmly on the boundaries of all things living and otherwise, I don't know. What is it this time? The border between chair and sky? Like such a stupid thing could possibly exist!

"What Youmu says is true, Yukari." Says the slightly more charismatic voice of the remaining party, Yuyuko. Am I some sort of magnet for these two? I suppose Yuyuko just got bored of sitting by herself and came over to see what all the hubbub was. "The gardens here are grown in the realm of the dead, yet the plants are quite alive. Such things are naturally fragile."

"No fair," Yukari groans, though her voice seems surprisingly candid and playful, "You made that up, didn't you!?"

"Did I?" Yuyuko replies with another question, blatantly dodging the question with only the smallest of laughs. And then suddenly turns to Youmu, but not before acknowledging my even being here with a split-second glance. "Have you invited our guest to tea, Youmu?"

"Er, no. Not yet." She answers her mistress meekly, as if to sound ashamed by this gross misconduct.

[ ] Go in, have tea.
[ ] I really ought to get going.
Oh, right, forgot this part. Even if this is a new story, the write-in option is still in effect, though I won't always include a little "[ ] ?" there to acknowledge it. I'm just providing folks with a few set options to make things a little easier in times of being stuck between rocks, hard places, and thousands upon thousands of sharp pointy objects. That concludes this public service announcement.
File 123379463425.jpg - (76.64KB, 640x480 , TEA.jpg) [iqdb]
[TEA] Go in, have TEA.

[X] Go in, have tea.

Everyone has time for tea.
[X] Go in, have tea.
GiG2 : Crow of liberty?
[x] CQC training with Youmu.
[ ] Go in, have tea.

Real men drink tea.
[x] Go in, smoke a cigar

Too manly for tea.
[ ] Go in, have tea.

Poor Youmu looks like she's frustrated with both Yukari and Yuyuko around.
Pardon? You seem to have lost me.
[x] Go in, have tea.
[x] Have a smoke.

Youmu then turns to me with the same look on her face, as if begging my pardon. What, does she think something so minor would get to me? Like I'm gonna turn around and yell at her? Well, maybe that's something Yukari would do, but not me.

"I'd be happy to," I say with a smile, trying to reassure the poor girl and save her the trouble of stumbling over any more words to get the question out. She doesn't seem to handle this kind of social pressure well at all. Or.. Maybe it's just the company she's forced to keep. I'd probably wind up like her if I spent every waking minute around those two.

"T-then, right this way." She says, performing a full recovery in the short time it takes her to turn around to face the palace in the distance. Quickly, she leads me thought the gardens. She finds an open road somewhere down the way, and now that I'm not hitting my face on any more low-hanging tree branches, the walk becomes far more pleasant.

"You look worn out," I say after a few minutes, trying to strike up a conversation. It's likely that, without my saying something, she'd probably just keep silent.

"You would be too, if you had this job." She replies nonchalantly, with a slight hint of laughter towards the end of her sentence. I'd try to keep going with the conversation, but it would seem as if we've already arrived. Youmu slides open a door and invites me to sit inside.

There's a small table just by the entrance, probably set there on purpose to achieve the best view of the gardens. I'm not complaining, of course. I don't think I could ever tire of staring out at it.

So I take a seat, and watch silently as Youmu takes another door out of the room. From here, I can see the road that lead up to here, but Yukari and Yuyuko are hidden by the trees. Hidden, that is, or no longer there. I should expect one or the other to sneak up behind me any minute now.

Youmu returns after a few minutes, and I receive no unwanted surprises in the short time she's gone. She takes a seat at the other side of the table, setting down a tall thin jar, and a set of small cups that could easily fit into the palm of my hand.

My experience here tells me that these are traditionally used for drinking sake, a type of Japanese rice wine, though..

"I didn't think you to be the drinking type," I say, looking her squarely in the eye.

She smiles, replying with, "Maybe I picked up some of your bad habits."

Was that meant as a joke, or a cleverly disguised stab? I laugh regardless, nodding and agreeing with her in response. Either way, it's certainly undeniable that I do enjoy a good drink every once in a while. 'Every once in a while' that is, by the standard Tengu definition--which is to say, at least three times a day. I'm sure the oni definition of the phrase would be much more often than that, and that amount of drinking would likely kill any average human.

"No complaints here," I say with a chuckle, pick up one of the glasses, and wait for her to serve the drink as custom dictates. I don't have to wait long at all, but I find it funny that this small girl is nearly able to match me drink for drink.

So I say, "Work bothering ya?" That is to say, 'Is your job here bothering you so much that it's driven you to drinking?'

"No, not particularly." She answers, downing another shot of the stuff without care for what it may do to her more reserved appearance. "What about that gun shop of yours?"

"I'm doing alright, I guess." Aside from the fact that Tengu are traditionalists and seem to want little to nothing to do with firearms. For them it's all swords, swords, and more swords. "Business might be better if I moved the shop down to the village."

I guess I'm in the same boat with those Moriya folks. Nobody's gonna come all the way up a mountain to worship, just like nobody's going to risk the same journey to buy a gun or two.

Youmu pours me yet another drink, though I seem to have lost track of how many I've had so far. The stuff goes down so easy, I guess I just don't know when to stop.

[ ] Stay a little longer.
[ ] Head back to the mountain.
[ ] Stay a little longer.

Youmu needs some company that's not going to try to drive her mad... at least not all the time.
[x] Stay a little longer.
[ ] Stay a little longer.
[ ] Stay a little longer.
[ ] Stay a little longer.

"I guess it couldn't hurt.." I say to myself, accepting yet another drink from the slightly red-faced half ghost. Watching her like this gets me thinking that... Maybe it's not me who doesn't know when to stop.

"Ever think of taking a vacation?" I ask her directly.

"'Oh, all the time,' The girl answers, the meaning of her words lost on the dullard of a man sitting before her.

What she means to say is, 'I want to run away with you!'

Though, little do they know, a shadow has set it's eyes on them. It watches them silently, watching the half-drunk half-ghost blush furiously as her words are spelled out to the man by the shadow lurking over his shoulder.

Spotted! The man swings around and stares the shadow in the eye! A wordless battle of gazes begins, and--"

"Wordless, my ass." I say with a grin, staring yet another familiar face in the eye. "Your narration could use a bit of work, Aya."

"Oh, well." She shrugs, fluttering down from the ceiling to have a seat--

Right on my lap, of course. She's awfully forward, even in the most public of places. Though, it's not like I mind. She hardly weighs much at all, even for her already thin stature. Maybe her bones are hollow like a bird's, or something to that measure. Still, sitting cross-legged, I can easily feel her soft butt pressing on my--

"Your self-control could use a bit of work too, Snake." She giggles, purposefully grinding her hips down on that growing thing in my pants as my face lights up like a blowtorch.

Youmu doesn't seem to notice any of what's going on. Or if she does, she's doing a damn fine job of hiding it. She just smiles and greets the newcomer like it's only natural.

Aya leans back as she crosses her legs, driving herself into me even harder and grinning all the while. You're doing this on purpose, aren't you, you bitch?!

Though, it's not like I could say that outright. That grin on Aya's face assures me that she knows what's going through my mind, and she seems to have already prepared herself for the sort of payback I'll have in store for her later.

"So, how's it been?" She asks Youmu sitting across the table, forcibly inserting herself in the conversation as if it were only natural.

"Not bad..." Youmu pauses, "Is what I'd like to say, but.. You know full well what my master is like."

Aya makes a strange face, saying nothing as if reminiscing on some horrible incident that took place long ago.

"Yeah, I can see why you've taken to drinking." Aya smiles, nudging me softly in the ribs. "Pretty soon you could wind up like this useless guy, here."

"..." I say nothing. I have no rebuttal, and no argument of any sort that Aya couldn't easily reverse to use as a jab against me. I guess this is the kind of relationship we have, though I can't say I don't like it. It has it's.. perks, I should say. From Aya's standpoint, that alone should keep me from being so 'useless'.

"When that happens, I hope you two will accept me into your home with open arms." Youmu replies with a jeering grin, so completely unlike her usual personality it's almost scary. The drink must really be affecting her judgement.

"Uhh..." Aya looks to me uneasily, for once at a loss for words. I decide to say nothing yet again, taking in that look for as long as I can.

But something else is bothering me..

"Aya," I say,

[ ] "Didn't you have work today?"
[ ] "How did you find me?"
[ ] "You're crushing my legs."
[ ] "Didn't you have work today?"
[ ] "Didn't you have work today?"
[X] "Did you gain some weight?"
The best stab against woman.
Well, make it sounds like a joke though. Or Aya's gonna be really mad.

[x] "Did you gain some weight?"

And I'm not surprised Youmu is unhappy with her present lifestyle. Nothing is going to breed wanderlust like having to go back to a life of servitude and menial labor after spending a month with Snake & company, tear-assing around Gensokyo looking for the shit.
[ ] "Didn't you have work today?"
[X] "Did you gain some weight?"

What a wonderful idea.
[x] "How did you fi--"
[x] "No, wait. Didn't you have work today?"
[x] "Did you gain some weight?"
[X] "Did you gain some weight?"
Nice one, Kirin.
[X] "Did you gain some weight?"
For good measure.
"Did you put on some weight?"

I make a slightly more personal jab in lieu of my original plan to ask her why she got out of work so early.

In response, she turns her head to look at me, and I catch sight of the strangest thing. She appears to be grinning. She says nothing, so I can't really figure out exactly what it is she's grinning at, but it's weird all the same. Truth be told, I guess I wanted to see her get angry.

She turns back, having said nothing, and says to Youmu,

"Sorry to be a bother, but would you mind sharing some of that?"

And without hesitation nor any response on Youmu's part, she goes for the jar on the table, downing whatever was left in no more than a matter of seconds.

All the while this is happening, I can feel her elbowing me continuously in the ribs. Yep, she's pissed alright. I begin to wonder if it was such a good idea to say that at all. I should start my mental preparations now for the argument to come.

Youmu seems a bit put off by Aya's conduct, but stays silent regardless. Aya places the bottle back and slumps down into me like I'm some kind of chair--well, I guess I might as well be in this instance.

The two chat it up for a bit longer. Aya remains outwardly cheerful while Youmu tries not to get upset every time her personal space is invaded. Every so often, I'll feel a slight nudge from Aya, who seems entirely more interested in making me look embarrassed than on the conversation she's currently engaged in.

Youmu eventually goes for another round of drinks--this time sharing with Aya rather than deciding to punish her for what she did previously.

"So," Aya says to Youmu after what could be a number of hours, "It's a bit sudden, I'm sure, we really ought to be going.."

Uh oh. I'm not sure I like where she's taking this. Her voice seems friendly enough, but carries with it the implications of an impending and unavoidable doom.

Youmu objects, saying, "So soon? I was hoping you two might stay for a little longer."

If only to keep those two meddling old ladies off your back, right Youmu? The intent of her words shines clearly through those sky blue eyes of hers.

"Nope, no can do." Aya replies plainly, and though I can only see the back of her head from here I'm sure she's smiling. "Snake's got a whole mountain of work to do, right?"

She turns to me with another sneaky glare. At first I thought she was mad because of what I said. Now I don't know what to make of it. Despite all that, today is my day off, so the fact that I have no work to do is evident. What she told Youmu was a simple and bold-faced lie.

But I can't help but wonder what all of this is for. She leaves work early, or so I presume, only to come all the way out here just to pick me up. Well, whatever. I might as well play along. If I stay here any longer, I may end up carrying a drunken Youmu to her room.

"Ya know, I completely forgot." I say with a laugh, ignoring yet another soft jab to the ribs.

And with that, I excuse myself. I take a bow and exchange a few parting words with Youmu, and am eventually pushed out of the room by an impatient Aya.

As soon as we're clear of the building, I turn to her and ask,

[ ] "What the hell was that all about?"
[ ] "Was I right? Did you gain weight?"
[ ] "Would it help if I said I was sorry?"
[ ] "Would it help if I said I was sorry?"
[ ] "Would it help if I said I was sorry?"
>In response, she turns her head to look at me, and I catch sight of the strangest thing. She appears to be grinning. She says nothing, so I can't really figure out exactly what it is she's grinning at, but it's weird all the same.

[x] "You're not pregnant are you?"
Oh shit. That's possible.
[x] "You're not pregnant are you?"
[x] "You're not pregnant are you?"

that's a pretty awful way of phrasing it

There is no "good" way to phrase this question.
[X] "You're not pregnant are you?"

We'll be able to make it up with all the "Woohoo!"-ing we'll be doing.

[X] "You're not pregnant are you?"

[ ] "What the hell was that all about?"

We are NOT whipped.

[x] "Okay, I'm sorry about the... uh..."
[x] "Wait... are you pregnant?"
File 123434364652.jpg - (96.76KB, 608x500 , AyaandSuika2.jpg) [iqdb]
[X] "Okay, I'm sorry about the... uh..."
[X] "Wait... are you pregnant?"

If it's true, we should have a party to celebrate!
People, you do know that Vodka has said (Well, Aya, but same deal) that tengu can't get pregnant from humans?
Snake had sex with Aya when he was a youkai. This is all entirely possible.
>you do know that Vodka has said (Well, Aya, but same deal)
Are you somehow confused here, or am I forgetting something? Becuase right now it's me who is getting confused.
Or do you just mean that I'm the same deal as Aya? But that... doesn't make much more sense either, unless you start thinking about it too much.
Vodka is our dear little tengu whore~
File 123438501578.png - (57.46KB, 200x228 , justasranned.png) [iqdb]
"What the hell was that all about?"

And then it hits me. The way she's acting, the strange looks.. It couldn't mean..

"Wait, you're not.." I pause, trying to come up with a way to word an incredibly delicate question.

Nothing. I'm drawing blanks. It's important, though, so I should just come out and say it.

"You're not pregnant, are you?"

I look to her, and she stares right back. A brief moment of silence passes between us, and--

"Heh, haha--"

A small smile, and she suddenly breaks out laughing. It's the kind of laughter you'd expect one to make when told a really funny joke--certainly not something I'd expected. It's a little annoying. I'm trying to be serious, here.


She turns to speak, only to laugh even harder as she catches sight of my face. She must've realized by it that I'm not saying that as a joke.

"What kind of question is that?!" She yells through brief spurts of laughter, "You know that can't happen!"

"Yeah, but--"

She brings up a good point. Tengu can only reproduce with other Tengu. Seeing as I'm not a Tengu, she couldn't possibly be pregnant, unless--

Well, her reaction tells me that it isn't the case, and I brush such thoughts from my mind. But that still leaves one question unanswered..

"Then why the rush?"

"Well," She replies, brushing a laughter-induced tear from her eye, "It's certainly not because I'm pregnant."

"Hmm.." I shrug. She'll explain eventually, now that I've asked, and it'd only take her longer to get to the point if I were to keep asking pointless questions.

"I spoke to God the other day," She says, neither being completely serious nor joking around. "I made some plans earlier in the week, and I hadn't thought about it until just now."

"So?" Plans? What plans? Of course I wouldn't have heard word of them had she completely forgotten, but I really do wish she'd take my opinion into consideration when making plans for the both of us.

"So, we'll be having dinner tonight at the shrine on the summit."

Kanako's place, eh? Well, I'd figured as much as soon as she'd mentioned 'God'. Well, it seems interesting enough, but at the same time a little troublesome. I'd kinda wanted to spend the rest of today relaxing--which is what I'm certainly not going to do if I eat dinner with that lot. 'Dinner' in Kanako's mind seems to be synonymous with 'party', after all.

[ ] Go to the shrine.
[ ] Don't go to the shrine.
[ ] Go to the shrine.
[A] Go to the shrine.

Shrines for the shrine Gods!
>"What kind of question is that?!" She yells through brief spurts of laughter, "You know that can't happen!"

[X] Go to the shrine.
Hoping Aya has something planned.

We could always call in a favor with Yukari.
>Tengu can only reproduce with other Tengu. Seeing as I'm not a Tengu, she couldn't possibly be pregnant, unless--

[x] Equip Novelty Cyrano Nose
[x] Dip face in red paint
[x] "Fuck you I'm a Tengu!"
[x] Go to town on Aya
[ ] Go to the shrine.

No chance for kids, huh? I'm kind of sad now...
Hooray for continued sex without consequences!

[x] Go to the shrine.
[X] Go to the shrine
[X] DON'T go to the shrine
[ ] Go to the shrine.

I just thought you should know that I worded this option just for you.
I lol'd hard.
[X] Go to the shrine.
Sure, why not? Doing it when there's a chance of people discovering get Aya turns on the most.
[ ] Go to the shrine.
[x] Go to the shrine.

I want Snake and Aya to make tengu babies, dammit. But... it'd take a miracle to pull that off.
File 123443087562.jpg - (134.12KB, 400x600 , 52dfac223050fe643cbce2dad2c8eb3e.jpg) [iqdb]

>But... it'd take a miracle to pull that off.

Miracle you say?
Why, yes! As a matter of fact I do say that!
Alright, I'll bite. There's hardly a time I've ever been up to the shrine without reason, so it might make for a good change of pace. It might be nice to see what those fools act like in their day-to-day life.

Aya keeps moving forward regardless, making it seem like I've no choice in the matter. We're going to the shrine for dinner, and she won't take no for an answer. That may just be my mind running wild, though.

"Any reason why?" I ask, curious to find out if maybe something actually has happened.

"Naah, doubt it." She replies, shaking her hand dismissively.

And then she turns to ask, "Why?"

"Nothing, nothing." I try to wave off the subject. She doesn't seem to know either way, so I'm sure it's just a friendly invite. Kanako'd probably lose her shit if something like Sanae running away were to happen. Wouldn't be the first time, I suppose..

So I follow Aya pretty much back the way I came. Out through those enormous golden gates which make this place appear as nothing less than heaven, past the billowing smog and smokestacks of the Tengu city industrial district, and rather than head back to our place, she takes a turn.

Straight up the mountain. I can practically feel the cold air already. As if it weren't bad enough right here..

The cold doesn't seem to bother Aya so much. I suppose after spending a few hundred years living here on the mountain ought to acclimate one to this sort of environment. I, on the other hand, am freezing my ass off.

Below us, the vegetation begins to thin out. Trees become sparse, and eventually disappear altogether--the grassy forested slope clearly visible to the naked eye.

And on the top of all this, a staircase. Yes, another one. I'm still finding it tough to get used to. People build these things in some of the most remote places, and it's likely that nobody has ever set foot on it. Everyone ballsy enough to come this far is probably either going to fly, or more likely, get eaten by one of the forest-dwelling youkai on the way.

At the top of this staircase stands none other than Kanako herself--as if standing guard over the shrine just beyond. It's not like anybody's gonna come up this far just to cause trouble, so it's more likely that she was waiting for somebody.

That somebody being us, of course.

Her dull, sleepy expression brightens the moment she sees us. Her entire demeanor seems friendly, and maybe just a bit more childish than I'd expected. Sometimes I wonder if this person is really a God at all..

"Hiya, folks!" She says with a smile as soon as we're in earshot. "You're early!"

"Early?" I ask, turning to Aya. I figure she should expect a few glares from me after so forcefully tearing me away from a peaceful midday with Youmu.

"You heard me, ya bastard!" Kanako overflows with cheerfulness, and the smile on her face shows that her words aren't intended to offend. She gives me and Aya both a firm slap on the back, and says, "Come on in. We got a fire goin'!"

I follow the woman-slash-God inside. She's tall, even by my standards. Probably the first woman I've ever met who's noticeably taller than myself. She nearly hits her head walking inside.

As for the fire, well..

It almost looks like the entire room has been set ablaze. An orange hue floods the room, the light dancing on the walls gives the appearance of a bona-fide inferno. The fire itself is much smaller. A portion of the floor has been removed, and a bronze pan full of burning wood now sits in it's place. Those matted floors are handy like that.

It's a miracle the place hasn't burned down by now, considering there's no real outlet for the smoke.

Aya takes a seat right beside the fire, holding her hands out in front of her as most people would. Beside her is Sanae, who does nothing more than stare into the flames as if hypnotized. If I didn't know better, I'd say she was talking to herself.

"Well?" Kanako asks, looking me squarely in the eye. I have no clue how long she's been standing there, as she looks rather impatient. "Whaddaya think?"

"It's certainly a fire." I reply calmly, not quite sure what kind of answer she was looking for. Still, it certainly is a fire. I'm not wrong about that.

"Hmmm..." She grumbles, narrowing her eyes and leaning forward ever so slowly.

[ ] ?
[X] What?

because I seriously don't know what she's expecting to hear.
[x] Thank her for inviting you two over.
[x] Ask what the fire is for, particularly other than cooking..
[x] "I'm not really into the whole mystic-occult-voodoo-gypsy scene, but I'll say... this fire is perfectly suitable for burnt offerings, human sacrifice, or ritual self-immolation, as well serving more mundane purposes: Light, warmth, a cooking element, and the sanitization of particularly sensitive documents."
[x] "I'm not really into the whole mystic-occult-voodoo-gypsy scene, but I'll say... this fire is perfectly suitable for burnt offerings, human sacrifice, or ritual self-immolation, as well serving more mundane purposes: Light, warmth, a cooking element, and the sanitization of particularly sensitive documents."
[x] "I'm not really into the whole mystic-occult-voodoo-gypsy scene, but I'll say... this fire is perfectly suitable for burnt offerings, human sacrifice, or ritual self-immolation, as well serving more mundane purposes: Light, warmth, a cooking element, and the sanitization of particularly sensitive documents."
[x] "I'm not really into the whole mystic-occult-voodoo-gypsy scene, but I'll say... this fire is perfectly suitable for burnt offerings, human sacrifice, or ritual self-immolation, as well serving more mundane purposes: Light, warmth, a cooking element, and the sanitization of particularly sensitive documents."
[x] "I'm not really into the whole mystic-occult-voodoo-gypsy scene, but I'll say... this fire is perfectly suitable for burnt offerings, human sacrifice, or ritual self-immolation, as well serving more mundane purposes: Light, warmth, a cooking element, and the sanitization of particularly sensitive documents."
I really have no way to properly respond to this. She just keeps staring and staring, and each passing moment she seems to grow more and more restless. She definitely expects me to say something.. But what?

Gathering my nerves, I decide to go with the first thing that pops into my head.

"I've gotta say," I explain, looking the angry Goddess straight in the eye, "It's a pretty nice fire."

No reaction. I continue, "I don't really buy into the whole occult thing, but I can tell just by looking at it. This fire is perfectly suitable for ritual self-sacrifice. I should probably warn you, though--Sanae's staring a little too deeply into it, and it's making me a little uneasy."

Maybe it's the fire that put it there in the first thing, but I didn't know I had the ability to blurt out such weird things. Kanako seems stunned, though it's probably the bit about Sanae that did it.

Sanae herself shows no signs of looking away from the fire, and having overheard the whole thing, Aya is overcome with laughter.

"The hell?" Kanako finally asks as a thin smile appearing on her otherwise confused-as-hell expression turns to a full grin. She too is soon overcome with laughter.

"You're one crazy bastard, sayin' something like that!" She says, reaching an arm around my neck and plucking something from my back.

A very large something, in fact. Wait, isn't that..

Yes, I'm sure it is. Somehow, somewhere, it would seem that I've picked up a ghost. That transparent white cloud-shaped sort of thing would be instantly recognizable to anyone who can see them. Of course, I'm pretty sure everyone in this room can see it.

"Though so.." The Goddess murmurs quietly to herself. What strikes me as the most odd about it is the expression she has on while she does it. Sure, I'd probably pick up a ghost or two going to the Netherworld, but even if she doesn't know where I've been she doesn't have to look so cross about it.

"Hey," She yells to nobody in particular, eyes darting across the room and surprising... Well, only me by the looks of it. "Get yer ass out here!"

"Uh.." Okay, so maybe she knows something I don't. Because a second later, someone steps into the room. And one I see her, I can be absolutely positive that I was followed the entire way here. The one who steps out into the firelight is none other than Youmu.

"I've been discovered." She says in her usual depressing tone.

"Yeah, didn't think they'd catch on that fast.." Aya says in response, as if trying to collaborate with the entirely too calm half ghost.


I think Kanako and I are in the same boat on this one. I don't even know what the hell is going on right now, and the goddess next to me holds an expression that says the same.

"Come on in," Sanae says quietly, breaking a wave of silence I'd hardly noticed filling the room, "Sit by the fire.. Fire is nice..."

[ ] Turn to Kanako. "I think your shrine maiden's lost it."
[ ] Turn to Aya. "What's all this, then?"
[ ] Turn to Youmu. "You heard her, have a seat."
[ ] Turn to Kanako. "I think your shrine maiden's lost it."
>Seems my sneaking way back then has rubbed off on you.

Not enough, obviously.

[x] Turn to Kanako. "Chief, I think your witch-doctor drank too much fire-water."
[x] With you back to Youmu, waving her in. "You heard her, 'Grey Fox.' Have a seat."

You don't need to see her to know she'll wince at this.

BTW, Snake, your infatuated Youmu is adorable.
[x] Turn to Kanako. "Chief, I think your witch-doctor drank too much fire-water."
[x] With you back to Youmu, waving her in. "You heard her, 'Grey Fox.' Have a seat."
[x] Turn to Kanako. "Chief, I think your witch-doctor drank too much fire-water."
[x] With you back to Youmu, waving her in. "You heard her, 'Grey Fox.' Have a seat."
[x] Turn to Kanako. "Chief, I think your witch-doctor drank too much fire-water."
[x] With you back to Youmu, waving her in. "You heard her, 'Grey Fox.' Have a seat."
[X] Turn to Kanako. "Chief, I think your witch-doctor drank too much fire-water."
[X] With you back to Youmu, waving her in. "You heard her, 'Grey Fox.' Have a seat."
Poor Sanae is going crazy.
[x] Turn to Kanako. "Chief, I think your witch-doctor drank too much fire-water."
[x] With you back to Youmu, waving her in. "You heard her, 'Grey Fox.' Have a seat."
This write-in. it's awesome.

[X] Turn to Kanako. "Chief, I think your witch-doctor drank too much fire-water."
[X] With you back to Youmu, waving her in. "You heard her, 'Grey Fox.' Have a seat."
[X] Turn to Kanako. "Chief, I think your witch-doctor drank too much fire-water."
[X] With you back to Youmu, waving her in. "You heard her, 'Grey Fox.' Have a seat."

Good stuff.
Yeah, there's definitely something up with that girl. Last time I was here, she seemed a lot more.. Lively, maybe? The Sanae in front of me about as lively as a corpse, so I guess it's safe to say that something has gone horribly wrong in her life.

"Hey chief," I say to the Goddess beside me, "I think someone's had a bit too much of the fire-water."

Kanako laughs, but disagrees. She tells me that Sanae doesn't drink.. and never has, apparently. Maybe that's part of the issue..

To the other side of me--that is, the side that isn't being playfully slapped by a possibly half-drunk Goddess--is Youmu. Still standing silently by the door, I see. Though the fact that she followed me here unnerves me a bit, I wave her over to have a seat.

"Stop standing around and have a seat, 'Grey Fox'."

I add in the code-name she'd been given during our parade around the world. The fact that it was given to her mostly on a whim should have made it forgettable, but the look on her face tells me that she remembers it very well.

She has a seat silently beside me, taking up my other flank that I'd hoped to leave unoccupied. At least she's not the type to push or pull me around the room like this dark-haired Goddess on my other side.

Maybe I'm not used to so much company, but the room starts to feel a little stuffy. And the jealous glares from Aya don't serve to help my position. Just telling by the looks of her, I could half-expect her to tackle me at any moment.

Thankfully, she doesn't. But what she does do is even less expected. Slowly, she walks over. Slowly, she takes my hand.

And she quickly yanks me out from between the two women, causing Kanako to nearly topple over onto Youmu. I'd probably be laughing, were it not for the pain in my arm.

"Follow me." She says, though it's clear that I'm not to be given the freedom to choose in this situation. I'm going with her, and that's the end of it. I don't even have time to protest.

She drags me past Sanae who still stares deeply into the fire, down a vaguely familiar set of hallways, and back outside.

"Uhm..." I'm not sure what to say. She's been like this all day, really. It's not normal for her to be so impulsive as to drag me out to--

Hey, I remember this place!

It's the hot spring behind the shrine, though it seems to have gone through a heavy remodeling. There's a roof, a few supports holding it up, and no walls in sight aside from the shrine behind us. There's a bit of a breeze coming through, which serves to pull all of the steam rising from the water out into the atmosphere.

I walk to the edge of the unchanged cobblestone-ish floor to get a better look. What I see is indescribable. I suppose the phrase 'I can see everything' would work in it's place, though.

"You remember this place, right?"

Aya asks, taking a step up beside me. The smile on her face is just as beautiful as the entire world I see before me.

Or something corny like that. Truth be told, I'm not sure what she's getting at. It's only been a year in her thousand-year lifespan, and it's making her feel all nostalgic? I'm not sure I should buy it.

But when she looks at me with that smile..

[ ] "How could I forget?"
[ ] Grin, "Why don't you refresh my memory?"
[ ] "You do know we're supposed to be having dinner?"
[x] Grin, "Why don't you refresh my memory?"
[oho] Grin, "Why don't you refresh my memory?"
[X] Grin, "Why don't you refresh my memory?"
[X] Grin, "Why don't you refresh my memory?"
[ ] Grin, "Why don't you refresh my memory?"
[X] "How could I forget?"
I wonder what this button does.
I can only reply with a smile of my own.

"Why don't you refresh my memory?" I say with a grin.

It's such a cheap come-on line, she'll have to take it as a joke. I'm doing all I can to keep myself from laughing, but--

Wait, what's she doing?

She takes a step to the side, turning to face me head-on, and--

"Ugh, you pig!" She says, disgusted.

I don't know how to react. This was one reaction from her I didn't expect. After all the time we've spent together, I find it hard to believe that she'd be disgusted by something so silly.

"What's wrong?" I ask, betting on a hunch that tells me she might not be serious. "Not in the mood?"

A smile, a giggle.

"Had you going there, didn't I?" She says, filled to the brim with laughter and just about to burst.

I should probably be angry. No, I should definitely be angry. But the fact that I fell for an otherwise hard to believe ruse makes me laugh instead.

"Haha, yeah." I reply, letting her lean into me for a bit. I wait for her to start to get comfortable, and--

"I was serious, you know."

"Eh?" She looks up, confused.

Of course, I wasn't serious at all, but memory tells me that it doesn't take much to get this girl started. If I keep at it just a bit more, she'll have nothing but sex on her mind for the rest of the day. This will, of course, bode well for me--or rather, the two of us--much later in the day.

In the split-second that it takes me to come up with a proper response to her confused state, she's already gathered her wits about her.

"Now you listen here," She says, looking up at me with a serious face that could freeze an ice fairy solid, "I know that was your first impression of me, but I'll have you know that I am not that kind of woman."

"Oh, I know exactly what kind of woman you are." I reply with a grin, pulling her closer with my hand on her thigh. Her eyes lock onto mine, and she starts to smile in only the most seductive manner, telling me that playtime's over.. Or starting, depending on perspective.

The simple fact of the matter is, what she just said is a complete lie. Granted, she may have had one too many on that fateful evening, but the situations she's gotten us into beyond that are easily far worse. It would seem that this may turn into yet another one of those--

The door slides open with a hollow sound. As if it were strangely choreographed, both mine and Aya's heads turn towards it at the exact same time. I'm pretty certain our expressions match, too.

From the open entryway steps none other than Kanako...

Who is carrying Sanae under her arm. If that sight weren't strange enough, the people following behind her make it look almost as if this were some sort of silly parade. There's Youmu of course. Behind her is a girl called Tenshi--a rather uppity type with hardly any respect for others, followed by Suika and Yuugi--a couple of drunkards who live nearby, and..

Wait, this is bad.

Actually, this is really bad.

The final member of the Kanako-carrying-Sanae parade is a woman named Satori. My brief encounter with her during last year's incident has proven to me that this otherwise unassuming character has an ability that lets her read people's minds.

What's bad about her presence has more to do with mine and Aya's current situation rather than something about Satori herself. My proximity to Aya seems to directly relate to the number of lewd thoughts I have about her.

But the fact that she's looking right at us, along with the rest of the crew, doesn't really seem to help.

[ ] "Uh, hi."
[ ] "Bath's occupied~"
[ ] Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!
[ ] Try to think of something lewd.
[ ] Pretend to be invisible.
[ ] Talk to (specify)
[ ] Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!
[X] Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!
Oh ho I wonder what this choice do.
[x] Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!
[x] Pretend to be invisible.

Where's a box when you need one?!
[x] Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!

Think of corrugated cardboard.
[X] Try to think of something lewd.
[X] Something like the image of yourself grabbing a tight hold of your plug, gently pulling it out, and then jamming it into the second port.

If you know what I mean.
[ ] "Bath's occupied~"
[ ] Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!
[X] Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!
[X] "Bath's occupied~"
[X] Try to think of something lewd.
[X] Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!

Think happy thoughts ... and don't lose your marbles ...
[X] "Bath's occupied~"
[X] Try to think of something lewd.

This should work.
Thankfully, she's hardly the type to gossip. That is, unlike a certain someone who's not trying nearly hard enough to keep herself under control. I swear I can feel her still trying to rub up against my leg. I should say I'm no less guilty. Despite the current situation, I do nothing to try and stop her. The best I can manage is to try not to get excited by it.

"Having fun, you two?"

Kanako asks while starting to walk over. She's got the biggest grin on her face--the kind that says 'I know what you're up to and I think it's quite humorous'. I'm not angry. That's just who she is. Anything and everything is funny to that woman, whether it be drinking or fighting.

"We were. Until you folks showed up."

I answer honestly, partly because she respects honesty. She's like an Oni in that regard, though certainly to a lesser extent than the two real ones taking up her flank. Suika and Yuugi--who both seems to be constantly drunk, even when sleeping--are laughing it up behind the goddess.

Satori remains silent, her eyes still focused on us.

"Glad to see you're still going strong." Kanako says with a smile, all the while trying to balance Sanae under her arm. She seems to notice me staring at the poor girl and says, "Like you said, too much fire-water." A laugh, followed by, "Figured we'd give her a good toss in the drink to cool her off."

I thought she said Sanae doesn't drink. Dare I ask?

"About that," Aya asks, taking a reluctant step away from me. "How's a hot spring going to-" She stops herself short. "You know what, never mind. Care if we join in?"

"Fine by me." The goddess shrugs, "But lover-boy here's gonna have to wait his turn." She looks to me, grinning from ear to ear. "Ladies first and all, right?"

I give a quick nod, but to tell the truth I'm feeling a bit left out. I guess it's natural, being the only male character from anywhere with enough guts and free time to visit a shrine all the way up on top of a youkai-infested mountain. I get the feeling that Kanako doesn't have the best business sense in the world.

Still, I'd be hard-pressed to turn a lewd eye on just about anyone in this room. Well, Aya is an exception to that, but still. Kanako acts like 'one of the guys', and more often than not I seem to treat her as such. Sanae is, well.. She's Sanae. I can't think of much more to say about her. The two oni, Suika and Yuugi would probably beat the living daylights out of me for ogling, if they weren't far too drunk all the time to notice. As for Satori..

I should try not to think about it.

As I move to excuse myself, Aya decides that this would be a most opportune time to introduce a new idea into the mix. She makes mention of setting up a barrier of some sort.

"You know, like hang a few sheets from a rope tied to the roof!" She says. Honestly, I don't know how well it would work, but Kanako seems to go for the idea.

"Well," The goddess remarks, dedicating a small portion of her infinite wisdom to the idea, "I'd rather that than have to think about this poor bastard sitting by the fire and crying all by his lonesome."

She laughs, giving me yet another hard slap on the back. I--

[ ] Think it's a good idea.
[ ] Think it's a bad idea.
[ ] Think Kanako should lay off it.
[x] Think it's a bad idea.

Jumping through hoops so I can hear your lewd conversations? Sounds like a joke in poor taste. I'd prefer to stare at that awesome fire, maybe get a little of that effect it had on Sanae.
[X] Think it's a bad idea.

Crying Snake
[X] Think it's a good idea.

Seriously, what could ever go wrong with this?
File 123540702273.jpg - (17.67KB, 120x90 , 6DA07DFFAFD35FE5F75ECC.jpg) [iqdb]
And now it is time for a good idea, bad idea ...

[=] Think it's a good idea.
[X] Think it's a great idea.
[x] Hell, why not?
[x] Think it's a bad idea.
[X] Think it's a bad idea.
Well, I'm not so sure I should go along with it. Aside from the obvious difficulties of actually setting it up, and the fact that all of it would be done for the sake of one man, there's also another couple of issues running through my head. Namely, it's hardly past noon. Who's idea was it to come out for a bath in the middle of the day, anyway?

I begin to protest, "I don't think you should go out of your way to--"

"Don't even start that." Kanako cuts in, disapproving. "I've already made up my mind and I'm afraid you're just gonna have to go along with it." She sighs and shakes her head. "Listen, bub. I know what you're thinking.."

Great. Now she can read minds, too. My eyes unconsciously dart back over to Satori, who has for some reason or another begun to smile. I don't know what it is about her, but something about that smile gives me the chills.

"..and I don't like it. If ya wanna be a stick in the mud, go sit over there with the haflie and her friend."

She points near the doorway, by which Youmu and Tenshi are standing. I don't think they've moved an inch since they walked in. Now that I look closely, they do look a little down. Actually, they seem so down in the dumps that the air around them seems darkened by the foul mood. I'm afraid that if I keep looking, the waves of depression that ooze out of that side of the room are gonna rub off on me.

"...funny thing is, I could smell it on her breath." When I turn back, it would appear that Kanako's been running her mouth non-stop the entire time I've been looking away. "The whole time she was talking I could smell it. What the hell is this 'I don't drink before nightfall' bullshit?! Liars and hypocrites, all of 'em!"

She throws her hands up in a rather angry gesture, somehow managing to not drop Sanae in the process. I really don't know how she does it. Well, at least from her words and that terrible impersonation, I can safely assume that she was talking about Youmu.

I can also assume that I don't have much say in the matter. Kanako isn't about to drop the subject any time soon, and if I can't say what her reaction would be if I try to say something contrary to her will. I guess there's nothing left to do but to go along with it. At least Aya will keep me company.


Hey, where is Aya? I'm certain she was standing right beside me just a moment ago, but now I find myself staring into thin air. I take a quick look around the room, looking for any sign of movement. My eyes catch sight of a small bird in the rafters, but no Aya.

"Hey, you think this oughta work?"

Her voice suddenly comes from behind. I stifle what would most certainly have been a girlish scream of surprise, and bring myself around to face her. She's carrying a heap of white cloth. I can only speculate as to its origin.

"Where'd you get those?" I ask, pointing to the ball of fabric.

"Hey, that'll do nicely!" Kanako butts in, giving her no time for explanation. "Let's set it up right now!" As if to seal the deal, she takes Sanae out from under her arm and sits her down against one of the wooden beams that support the roof. Not only that, but she makes lifting the poor girl look easy.

As Kanako intended, they--meaning her and Aya--begin to tie the fabric sheet--or rather, sheets--to the rafters over a section of the pool of water below. I wonder if I should mention the fact that I can just about see right through it at this distance.

Or not. A few steps closer to this makeshift barrier between sexes, and the other side becomes obscured. I can see the shadows of Kanako and Aya still floating around on the other side, but otherwise I'm blind to all that lies beyond it.

But not deaf to it. I find myself laughing as I listen to the two squabble and argue over miniscule details like how to tie what sheet to what rafter, to much larger issues like the single exit door that lies on the other side of the curtain.

For what it is, boring and routine are two things this day certainly isn't. I suppose in the meantime I should find something to do, or someone to talk to.

Pick a girl:

[ ] Kanako
[ ] Aya
[ ] Satori
[ ] Tenshi
[ ] Youmu
[ ] Sanae


[ ] Find something to do. (Specify)
[x] Youmu
[x] "What's wrong, Fox?"
[X] Aya

Going with the safe option. Or is it really that safe?
[x] >>76399

Youmu and Tenshi not trying to kill each other? This demands investigation!
[x] Youmu
[x] "What's wrong, Fox?"

Because, frankly, aside from Aya, Youmu's really the only close friend from the good old days.
[x] Youmu
[x] "What's wrong, Fox?"
[x] Youmu
[x] "What's wrong, Fox?"

Been wondering why she followed us.
[X] Youmu
[X] "What's wrong, Fox?"

I'm having Star Fox flashbacks here.
[x] Youmu
[x] "What's wrong, Fox?"

This bandwagon, I'll be jumping on it.
>[X] "What's wrong, Fox?"

[x] Do a barrel roll.
[x] Youmu
[x] "What's wrong, Fox?"
[x] Youmu
[x] "What's wrong, Fox?"

Oh god the memories
It's not difficult for me to notice that Youmu has something, or a number of somethings for that matter, on her mind. This might be my only chance for a while to talk to her.

So I calmly walk over to where she's standing. She doesn't notice me at all, but Tenshi, the girl standing beside her does.

And when she starts walking toward me with an angry sort of look in her eye, I know she has nothing good to say.

"You there!" She practically yells, alerting Youmu and just about everyone else to my having moved from the corner of the room. But I'm far too busy having holes burned through my person by this moron's stares.

"Don't think for a second that I've forgiven you!" She says.

"Uhh.." I stare blankly. What exactly I've done to warrant this sort of animosity escapes my memory. I'm sure Satori could attest to that, considering that she's hardly three feet away. It's like having somebody breathing down my neck, almost, and that's what's put me so ill at ease. This blue-haired weirdo in front of me is as nothing by comparison.

"Don't tell me.." She says with a hint of disappointment. "Don't tell me you've forgotten!"

"Yep." I reply. Someday, my honesty might get me killed. For now, all I want to do is to shove this idiot aside and have a more civil sort of chat with Youmu.

"GRAAAAAH!" She groans loudly, holding her hands to her face in a gesture of frustration. Though she refuses to simply leave it at that..

"Fine, then!" She reaches into her clothes and draws something from her belt. "Perhaps a good beating will--"

She goes silent in an instant. All the color flushes from her face and she nearly drops the vaguely familiar sword-like object from her hands. I feel a hand on my shoulder, and taking into consideration exactly whose hand it is.. I feel a shiver run down my spine.

"Be silent.." Says a quiet voice from behind. The source steps forward into my field of vision.

A now visibly annoyed Satori stares daggers into Tenshi, which comes as a particular surprise to me having never seen this girl make that sort of expression before. It truly is terrifying.

"You're disturbing my mood." She says, as Tenshi makes a valiant attempt to recover her previous intensity.

"W-What of it?" She replies meekly, merely a shadow of her former willpower in her words.

"You ask questions, though you already know the answers." Satori gleams with malicious intent. Does she intend to run the poor girl out of town or something? Tenshi turns her head and snorts, allowing just enough time to glare at me before storming off to the other side of the room somewhere.

She shakes her head. "I believe I've said enough."

And then steps silently back into her prior location near the water's edge. I'd say a word of thanks, but it's plain as day with the way she's smiling that I shouldn't have to speak.

Now then..

[ ] Talk to Youmu
[ ] Try talking to Satori.
[ ] Do something else. (Specify)
[x] Talk to Youmu.
[ ] Talk to Youmu
[x] Talk to Youmu.
[X] Try talking to Satori.
[ ] Talk to Youmu
[x] Talk to Youmu.
[x] "What's wrong, Fox?"
[x] Talk to Youmu.
[x] "What's wrong, Fox?"
Youmu seems to have brightened up a bit since that nuisance walked away, but her depression is still noticeable.

"Something wrong?" I ask.

"Aside from having migrated from one oppressive atmosphere to another, no." She replies humorlessly. "I'm beginning to believe my father was on to something when he left."

"Cheer up," I give her a pat on the back, "It can't be all bad."

I'm hardly qualified to deal with family issues, so this is about all I can manage. It seems to work well enough. So maybe she just needs to find a new line of work. I'd speak up, but knowing her and her sense of duty, she'd instantly deny even having thought about it herself. Instead..

"Well, at least you don't cater to a problem child like that." I give a nod in Tenshi's direction. Youmu exudes a small giggle, so it would seem that I've made some sort of progress.

"Indeed." She replies, starting to sound a little more like her usual self. "I suppose it could be worse."

"I still think you need a vacation." I add.

"Where would I go?" She asks me, "Should I leave Gensokyo and go visit Gensokyo?"

"Good point." Right, how could I forget? I'd be hard-pressed to say that there's no way in to this world, but as far as any of us are concerned, there's no way out. I don't particularly mind it, but I suppose that for some of the older or more adventurous in this world it could be seen as a sort of cage. Funny how I'd never seen Youmu as the adventurous type.

Still, "But there's gotta be somewhere you haven't been to, yet?"

"Of course, there's plenty of places I've never been." She gives me a wry sort of stare, "Though were I to visit them I'd surely wind up more than half dead."

Her response isn't surprising. It's only natural to value one's safety above boredom. Maybe part of the reason why so many ancient youkai hang out at Reimu's shrine is because she's one of those whose values have been flip-flopped, and that she'll do just about anything, no matter how dangerous, just to kill off that bored feeling. Well, I think that Reimu's just nuts.

"Well you're more than free to come live with us if you ever get tired of it all." I jab, remembering Youmu's half-drunken slur from earlier.

"Ha! You wish." Finally, a smile. "Aya certainly wouldn't approve of that, either, judging by the way she's been staring at us all this time."


My eyes turn towards the ceiling. Sure enough, just as Youmu said, there's Aya just staring and staring. She catches me looking back after a bit, and she smiles and waves. I wave back as a matter of courtesy.

"See?" Youmu grins strangely. "She's awfully possessive."

"Meh," I shrug. "I'm used to it."

"Then you're far stronger than I could ever hope to be." She laughs yet again, and turns to walk further into the room.

[ ] Keep talking.
[ ] How long does it take to set up one curtain?
[ ] Find something else to do. (Specify)
[ ] Keep talking.
[ ] Keep talking.

Honestly, I love Aya but I wish we could have been with Youmu instead.
[ ] How long does it take to set up one curtain?
[X] Keep talking.
[x] Keep talking.

Good to know that Youmu'll volunteer herself the next time shit goes down.
[x] Find something else to do. (Call out for Aya)
[X] How long does it take to set up one curtain?
I'm amazed at how quickly she snapped out of that depression. I had more expected that the conversation we had would've been more like me walking over, saying a few awkward words of encouragement, and then walking away to no avail. A little effort made all the difference in the world. So much so that it makes me wonder if she'd just been looking for somebody to talk to.

I'll probably never figure this girl out.

"Stronger, sure." I'll accept her complement, despite it's implied meanings. "Unless it comes to swordplay."

I've probably still got a few lumps left over from that last duel. It's been a few weeks since then, but she'd knocked me around hard enough that I can still feel the pain like it was only yesterday.

"That," She says enthusiastically, "Is because you lack the proper training."

"And I suppose your sort of 'training' involves preparing meals for that master of yours."

That is to say, the meals she prepares involve enough knife work to make an average human's hands bleed. They're elaborate, monstrously proportioned, and made often enough to satisfy the hunger of a small army..

Or one gluttonous ghost.

"Don't remind me." She replies pitiably, holding her head in her hands.

"Maybe it's time you put her on a diet." I continue, seeing straight through her not-so-clever act.

"I've tried, believe me." She laughs and looks as if remembering something.

"Having fun, you two?" Aya, apparently just finishing setting up Kanako's nightmare contraption, swoops down from above and nearly lands on my head in the process. She smiles at me, as if to say, 'What do you think of it?' Looking for compliments, I suppose.

"Nice dragnet, there." I say with a smile, looking over the haphazardly completed barrier that cuts the room nearly in two. "Planning to catch a few wind fish?"

Youmu lets out a small laugh, despite my belief that what I'd just said is a poor excuse even as far as bad jokes go. I just want to get on Aya's nerves a little. She seems so proud of that thing hanging from the roof that it's silly. Sadly, her reaction to it is instantly tuned out by my senses, as I've caught sight of a very unpleasant movement in the background.

"You won't catch any!" Tenshi declares, storming up behind Aya with this incredible angry look on her face that would make any man, woman or child think I'd just insulted her mother.

"Especially not with a rag like that!"

I see Aya's face go sour as soon as the word 'rag' spills from Tenshi's mouth. But, truth be told, I think she had that face on since I let loose that stupid statement earlier. Is she really taking so much pride in that thing? Is this really bothering her that much?

Tenshi's rudeness aside, the word 'rag' is actually a pretty good definition of this curtain I see before me. The scene playing out before me is interesting enough that I don't have time to remark on Tenshi's words that imply that a 'wind fish' could possibly be a real creature.

"Oh, great." Youmu mumbles, taking a step back. "Here we go again."

I find myself stepping away as well. This is Aya's battle now, if she so chooses to fight it. If anything, I'd like for this to be settled peacefully.. Like when Satori involved herself the last time Tenshi started acting up.

I look to the small, lavender-haired girl standing off to the side silently, only to find her looking right back with hardly a hint of emotion in her eyes. She shakes her head without a word, leaving us to fend for ourselves with her refusal to come to my aid. I can't say I blame her for not wanting to. It doesn't take a mind reader to know what she's thinking.

By this point, Aya and Tenshi have locked in on each other--one staring furiously at the other, and vice versa. Neither one of them says anything beyond a soft angry growl, when--

"Hey, hey!" It would appear that Kanako has caught sight of the whole thing. She steps up to the two with a friendly smile, lays a hand on either one's shoulder, and says, "Take it easy, you two."

"This is supposed to be a happy occasion!" Kanako continues, ignoring the frightened, repulsed look on Tenshi's face. It's clear that the girl isn't used to such intrusively friendly types like the Goddess leaning on her shoulder at this very moment. "Let's not argue about--"

A confused look. "Wait, what were you arguing about, again?"

And without any pause, Kanako returns to her usual laughing self. "Naah, doesn't matter. Here, why don't I get you guys a drink?"

At the mere mention of it, Aya pulls a complete three-sixty. The smile on her face is brighter than the sun, but not wholly unexpected. Either she doesn't realize that she's playing right into the hands of the God, or she doesn't care so long as it involves free liquor. The soured look on Tenshi's face hasn't changed one bit.

And from the far end of the room comes, "Somebody say drink?"

I suppose that when it comes to the mention of alcohol, Oni possess the sharpest hearing in and outside of Gensokyo, because hardly ten seconds have passed and the two merry-makers who were standing on the far side of the baths have made an instantaneous appearance behind Kanako. This only serves to further agitate Tenshi.

"Wh-What are you--" Completely ignored.

"Yeah! 's time fer more beer!" Says Suika, the shorter of the two, though it would appear that she's drunk already. As usual, I suppose.

"You need to lay off it." Say Yuugi, the taller one. Her face says 'I'm serious', but her words are nearly bursting with laughter. An Oni who so much as thinks of not drinking isn't an Oni at all, and this woman's Oni through and through.

[ ] Beer for the beer gods!
[ ] I should hold off.
[x] Beer for the beer gods!

[(*゚ー゚)つ凵] Beer for the beer gods!
[x] Beer for the beer gods!
>Aya pulls a complete three-sixty

Alright, now. I don't mean to nit-pick, but this has always just bugged me. If she pulled a three-sixty she would be back where she started. You mean a one-eighty.

[X] Beer for the beer gods!
File 123600873410.jpg - (441.21KB, 699x1000 , 6185c3db7d85741f74c26708ff672c43.jpg) [iqdb]
Not if she moonwalks.
[X] Beer for the beer gods!

[X] Beer for the beer gods!
File 123602325656.png - (98.88KB, 247x248 , 1229738721067.png) [iqdb]
{X} I should hold off.
[x] Beer for the beer gods!

It's party time!
[+] Beer for the beer gods!
I wonder if I have an Oni in my family somewhere. All this talk and thinking about beer is making my mouth water. Perhaps it's because the beer they make up here is so damn good, or maybe I'm just an alcoholic. I won't dwell on such pointless thoughts. At least, not when there's beer to be had.

I make a mental note to apologize to Youmu later for leaving her out by herself, and I start to head after the others.

That same hand, small and unsettlingly powerful, stops me dead in my tracks yet again. Is it just me, or is Satori starting to--

"There is something I must discuss with you." She says, as I look around my shoulder.

"Can it wait?" I ask, still feeling eager to head inside and have a drink with the others. Aya has already left with them, leaving me out here with Tenshi and Satori. I think Kanako dragged Sanae in with her, but I can't be sure.

"I'd rather it didn't." She replies, though her expression is stone-cold serious. It makes me wonder exactly what could be so important that she would make such a face. Her hand drops from my shoulder. "But, if it must.."

"Will it take long?" I'd rather not keep Aya waiting. If this is some sort of spur-of-the-moment love confession--

"It's not." Her eyes narrow.

"Sorry.." I can't think of anything else to say. I should probably feel embarrassed, but what's the use?

"It won't take long.." She pauses, looking to the ceiling for some reason or another. "Initially, at least. As an outside-worlder, I believe you'd know best as to how to solve it."

"You still haven't told me what the problem is yet, Satori." Too bad I can't read minds, huh? That'd probably make it a lot easier for her.

"Oh, er.. I apologize." She holds a hand over her mouth and looks away. I have no idea what to make of the gesture.

"One of my pets brought something home yesterday." She looks back to me, "Or, rather, someone. I'd have hoped to speak with him, though as is usual with all the others she brings back, he was dead."

"Dead, huh?" I can't say I approve of her pet's hobby of bringing home dead bodies like cats do with mice. Satori seems well accustomed to it, though. Though why would just another corpse need the attention of an outsider?

"The man was dressed strangely, and was carrying a number of items on his person that I've never seen before."

"So why not ask that shopkeeper over by the village?" He seems pretty knowledgeable on the subject of outside world trinkets--some of which even I've never seen before.

"I did. He told me to talk to you."

What for, I should wonder. Stuff invented after the year I was dropped into this world might as well be made by space aliens. I could hardly call myself an expert.

"I'm not sure myself." She continues abruptly. "He was acting strangely.."

"Maybe he doesn't want his mind read.." I state only the obvious. I have no intention of hurting the girl's feelings.

And thankfully, she knows this already.

"Maybe." She laughs quietly, though she seems about as distracted as I am impatient.

"If you promise to stay sober, we may continue this later." She says.

Her eyes dart over to Tenshi for some reason. Mine follow out of curiosity, only to find the celestial staring right back at us with the most curious of looks about her. Well, so much for privacy.

[ ] Let Satori speak. You're curious.
[ ] Save it for later. Beer awaits.
[ ] Let Satori speak. You're curious.

Work before pleasure.
{X} Let Satori speak. You're curious.
[x] Let Satori speak. You're curious.

Don't plan on staying sober.
[ ] Let Satori speak. You're curious.
[X] Let Satori speak. You're curious.
[ ] Let Satori speak. You're curious.
I don't want to admit it, but drinking and partying will have to wait. This sort of matter is plenty more important. It's not every day that an outsider finds their way into this world, and it's even rarer still that one would simply wind up on somebody's doorstep--dead or otherwise. I have to say, I'm curious.


As soon as I start to speak, I find myself being dragged out of the room. By Satori, no less. This kind of strength I could expect from Kanako or one of the Oni, but certainly not from this small little frail-looking girl. It takes a conscious effort on my part simply to not have my arm wrenched from it's socket as she pulls me inside and pushes me into the nearest wall.

And before I can ask why the hell she did that...

"I'd rather the others not know about this." She nods to the doorway she'd just pulled me through. "Especially so with one so impulsive as her."

"Uh.." Good point. I could easily imagine Tenshi's curiosity getting the better of her in a situation like this. Something like that could ruin my chances of learning much anything from this rare occasion. Maybe there is a way out of this world. I haven't thought much of it, but if the opportunity were to present itself..

I don't know what I'd do. Needless to say, I find my curiosity only growing with each passing moment.

"If you'd like, we could meet somewhere and I could show you some of the items he was carrying.." Her voice is quiet, a whisper. Almost.

"I'd like that, but why--"

She presses a finger to my lips and stares cautiously out through the door. Her skin is soft, much like Aya's, and her hands are just a little bit colder than my face. If she gets any closer, it'll look like we're--

"Stop that." She says, a tinge of red to her cheeks appearing suddenly.

"Right." Mind reader. She can see every conscious thought that passes through my skull. I can't let myself forget that, even if this was a little sudden.

"What are you doing?" Tenshi. Her demanding voice inquired to Satori's back.

Which must mean.. She followed us! I can't say I'm too surprised. She seems the curious type, and for someone who's normally quiet like Satori to act so out of character would certainly pique her interest.

Satori finally releases me, the hand on my lips and the other round my arm are pulled away with surprising speed as she turns her back to me.

"What does it matter to you?" She answers Tenshi's question with yet another question. Yet with the way she asks it, she might as well say, 'It's none of your fucking business'.

Well, so much for secrecy.

"So you're having a little affair with Aya's hubby?" Tenshi gleams maliciously at her, and for a second thereafter all eyes are on me.

"Hardly." I reply, noticing too late that my tone is awfully unconvincing. Satori's expression shows a slight disappointment in my reaction, and she turns back to Tenshi.

"I suppose the cat's out of the bag, then." She-- WHAT?

I'm shocked. Speechless. I wasn't expecting this. What is she planning? Is this something that's important enough to possibly jeopardize my completely healthy relationship with Aya? I know she can hear what's running through my mind right now, and that serves to frustrate me the most. Her silence, that is.

"But it still doesn't concern you." She continues like this is nothing.

"I'm making it my concern!" Tenshi declares, cementing herself further in the doorway. "You're lying, and you're pretty damn terrible at it! Tell me what's really going on and I'll leave you two alone to do..."

She pauses, realizing that she may have backed herself into a corner in her haste.

"Whatever the hell it is you're doing." She continues, brushing aside the subject like it was nothing. "Just tell me already!"

"Your curiosity is annoying." Satori remarks, now beginning to look visibly frustrated. "I have no intention to tell you, so if you'll please excuse us..."

Satori begins walking towards Tenshi, with the obvious intention to push past her. In actuality, Tenshi is much taller, and apparently much stronger than the poor girl, as I find her being pushed back into my arms a moment later. I think I caught her unintentionally, but I'm a little too stunned to notice.

"Haven't you noticed yet?" Tenshi's voice softens just enough to make me want to punch her squarely in the face. There's a certain disparaging quality to her words that makes what she says just that much more infuriating.

"Where do you stand in all of this?" She asks Satori directly, ignoring my presence altogether. I could probably walk out and she wouldn't even bat an eyelash. Her quarrel is with the mind-reader in front of me.

"In a closet." Satori shoots back.

"Dammit, would you stop--"

"Finishing your sentences?" A grin arises all of a sudden. "Why? Does it frustrate you?"

Tenshi's face contorts with anger. A seething sort of hatred for the girl in front of her that's almost as frightening as the grin spread across Satori's face.

"Of course it--"

"It does, doesn't it?" Satori's smile grows with each passing second. Neither of them seem to realize that I'm still even here, standing in this small room just behind Satori. God, I just wish somebody would end this all right now!

"Oooh, you burn me up!" Tenshi fumes, her frustration besting her curiosity as she silently storms away from view.

"..." I stand silent for a second, trying desperately to grasp what just transpired. "That.. Could've gone better." Much better, I should think.

"I'm not fond of that girl." She mutters, her words greatly understating the intense emotions still showing in her expression.

"We will talk later." I can hardly hear her at this point. "Meet me by the gate tomorrow morning."

"How will you--"

"I'll know." She answers me, not allowing me the courtesy to end my own sentences.

Well, I wanted to know what time we should meet, but I guess "she'll know". Really? If you ask me? Sometimes, I'd like nothing better than to find a hole and just crawl inside it until everyone forgets that I even exist.

[ ] Go find Aya.
[ ] Sit outside for a while.
[ ] Do something else. (Specify)
[X] Go find Aya.

And I'm reminded just how annoying Tenshi is.
[X] Go find Aya.
[X] Go find Aya.
[X] Go find Aya.
[X] Go find Aya.
I wait until Satori's gone before heading towards the noisiest part of the building. Without a doubt, I know I'll find Aya in there with the others.

I head down the hall and begin a rather aimless search for the group. Reaching a dead end, I turn back. I'm a little frustrated, but my lack of knowledge as to this part of the building's layout has me a little turned around. Being forcefully dragged into the middle of things here doesn't make my life much easier, and I struggle to find my way back to the spring out back.

I breathe a sigh of relief when I step out into the familiar stone floor of the spring, and I immediately begin heading back the way I'm used to. By the sound of things, they're probably all gathered in the main hall by the back door, so I guess I'll take the back way in.

My hunch proves to be correct, and I soon find myself being scrutinized by the drunken eyes of a pair of horned women sitting on the back stoop.

"Heya," I try to sound friendly, but not overly so. One wrong move and I'll wind up with a bottle of hard liquor shoved in my face. "You guys seen Aya?"

"Nope!" Suika, the shorter one replies first. I can smell the booze on her breath from here.

"We ain't got nuh- nuthin' ta do wif her!" Says Yuugi, the other woman sitting just beside Suika. Three sheets to the wind, this one. Her speech is so slurred I wonder if I'm hearing her correctly.

"Wanna drink?" Suika asks, holding bottle of something up to me. I take it, just in case.

Ack, it's half empty. Which means..

I look to the one that handed it to me. That stupid smile on her face confirms my suspicion. One of them, or both of them have been drinking from it, and she just decides to pass it off to me. I thank her regardless of my hesitation, and head in through the back door.

Shoes off.. I remembered this time. The rule makes sense, but I don't think I'll ever be able to form a habit of doing it. As soon as I step inside, I see Kanako smiling as usual. She doesn't appear drunk at all, especially by comparison to..

I struggle to keep my eyes facing forward. If the two out back catch me staring back at them, I'm done for. Last time I got caught up in their games, I had a hangover for three days.

"I sed I shaw it!" A rather inebriated voice yells out from further inside. Kanako sighs and looks to the floor dejectedly as I turn my eyes into the room.

And there's Sanae, bottle in hand with one foot on the only table in the room. More importantly, there's Aya sitting right under said table, smiling like she'd just won a brand new automobile. Well I'll be..

"Are you lishenin' ta me?!" Sanae's hand shoots forward in Kanako's direction, pointing and nearly losing it's grip around that bottle. Somehow, she's able to keep hold of it rather than letting it fly right into the goddess' face.

"I hear ya." Kanako replies, her voice sober as ever, which seems a little unlike her when I consider the fact that she's likely to be the biggest party animal in the room. Third biggest, if you count the two outside.

"If yer so intent on finding one, then.." Kanako adds, keeping to her rather calm demeanor. "Why don't ya just go look around?"

"Maybe I will!" Sanae replies, leaning forward and nearly falling forward over the table as she tries to keep herself balanced. Beneath all this is Aya, smiling and waving her hand at me to come over.

I shake my head 'no', hoping to avoid the possibility of having the table and Sanae come crashing down on me. Nevertheless, I venture further into the room to get as close as I can without risking life and limb.

"Something wrong?" She asks over the commotion in the background. I don't know what's going on, but..

"I feel like I just walked into a warzone." I end up having a seat regardless, though I try to keep my legs out from under the table as best I can. Aya brushes up against me a moment later.

"You have a knack for overstating things." She frowns, not nearly as drunk as the others, but just enough for the signs to be noticeable. And I was gone for how long, now?

[ ] Tell her what happened.
[ ] Make fun of her.
[ ] Push Sanae off of the table.
[X] Make fun of her.
[ ] Tell her what happened.
[ ] "Looks like we might be having another adventure ."
>I shake my head 'no', hoping to avoid the possibility of having the table and Sanae come crashing down on me. Nevertheless, I venture further into the room to get as close as I can without risking life and limb.

[x] "MORTAR!"
[x] Push Sanae off of the table.
[x] "Sorry. Combat stress reaction. Still in therapy."
[x] Tell her what happened.
[X] Tell her what happened.
[X] "Looks like we might be having another adventure."
[x] "MORTAR!"
[x] Push Sanae off of the table.
[x] "Sorry. Combat stress reaction. Still in therapy."
[x] Tell her what happened.

[x] "MORTAR!"
[x] Push Sanae off of the table.
[x] "Sorry. Combat stress reaction. Still in therapy."
[x] Tell her what happened.

Artillery pisses me off.
Vote deleted; voting for this instead.

[x] "MORTAR!"
[x] Push Sanae off of the table.
[x] "Sorry. Combat stress reaction. Still in therapy."
[x] Tell her what happened.

You weren't the one who came up with the combat high thing in AD's Persona story, were you?
[x] "MORTAR!"
[x] Push Sanae off of the table.
[x] "Sorry. Combat stress reaction. Still in therapy."
[x] Tell her what happened.

>You weren't the one who came up with the combat high thing in AD's Persona story, were you?

Actually, yes.
Fucking awesome. Got the same vibe and all. Doubly glad I voted for it.
I guess she really is the fastest in Gensokyo, even when it comes to getting drunk. I'm not sure if it's because she drank a high volume of alcohol in my absence, or if she just can't hold her liquor.

"You there!!"

"Jesus Christ!" Shock!

"Snake!" I hear the sound of Aya's voice, but I turn to the sound of the one other voice that came from directly behind me.

But just as soon as I realize that it was Tenshi who had yelled at me, I find that I somehow inadvertently kicked Sanae off of the table. I can't tell if it's me they're glaring at--'they' being Kanako and Aya--or the idiot behind me.

"Sorry, uh.." An excuse, I need to think of one. And fast. "Combat stress reaction?"

"'s fine." The lush I'd just kicked over says from her newfound place on the floor. "I fergive ya!"

But that doesn't stop Kanako from glaring at me. She looks like she wants to say something, but stays silent. That glare would be a whole lot less oppressive if she'd just come out with it, dammit!

"Hey, you." I turn around to Tenshi. "This is your fault. Say something."

"My fault?!" She acts like this is some kind of joke. "You kicked her over!"

"Mmmmh..." It's my mistake for trying to argue with someone as stubborn as her. I should stop it before I get drawn in and dragged down to the level of a small child.

"'s fine, I said!" Sanae makes yet another drunken effort to reassert control over the whole situation. "I *hic* sholdn'ta been standin' on'a table to begin wif!" Her attention turns to the silently fuming goddess in the corner. "Kanako!" She yells, holding up a hand as she near helplessly lays on the floor. "Gemme 'nother!"

"I think you've had enough for one night.." Kanako sighs frustratedly. She almost seems disappointed now. I could only imagine what could be bothering her, aside from the obvious fact that I'd just kicked her drunken shrine maiden onto the floor.

I guess I do kinda feel a little bad about it.

"You!" Again, the annoyance speaks. "Don't you dare ignore me!"

"I'm ignoring you~" I don't even turn to acknowledge her.

My efforts to not converse with her are rewarded by a light kick to the back. It's not enough to cause any pain, but it is a little annoying.

"What?" I ask, still refusing to turn around. The Kanako/Sanae drama playing out in front of me is far too interesting for me to turn away now.

"I sed gimme 'nother!"

"Tell me what she told you!" Tenshi demands. "Tell me or I tell her what I saw!"

"What did she see, Snake?" Aya asks, realizing that Tenshi's pointing at her.

"I said you've had enough!" I try to filter out the background noise. Kanako's voice included.

"Me and Satori making out, I guess." I say rather sarcastically.

"Oh?" Aya seems intrigued, but not bothered by it. She seems to trust me, so it's unlikely that she's taking it as anything more that the joke I meant for it to be. "Do tell~"

"I would," I pause, looking behind me towards the idiot that started this mess for a brief second as I finally decide to set the bottle in my hands up on the table I'd accidentally cleared a moment ago. "But there's a spy in our midst."

"Later, then." Aya nods, grabbing the bottle before I've even taken my hands off it.

And like that, in a matter of seconds it's all gone. The atmosphere, the drink, and thankfully, that annoying kicking against my back have all disappeared in an instant.

"I'll tell ya when I had 'nuff!" Sanae and Kanako continue their pointless argument on the other side of the room. "Now gimme another!"

"I might've wanted that." I say.

"Too little, too late." Aya says with a smile. "I guess you're out of luck."

Sure, or I could make her sweat it out.

"What's with that smile?" She asks.


"Sure it was~" She seems to have figured out when I'm thinking of things like that, as her reaction of pushing her chest against my arm suggests.

"It was before, but if you keep it up.." I'll take her right here on the floor and in front of everyone if I have to.

"Yo!" Yuugi bursts into the room. "Any 'a you folks seen Satori?"

"Snake has~!" Aya declares, pushing me away playfully.

"So?" The oni turns to me, her expression stone-cold sober despite her visibly reddened cheeks.


"Where is she?" She's awfully straight-forward, even when talking to people that barely know her. If I didn't know any better I'd have though she was simply just being rude.

[ ] "I dunno."
[ ] "Maybe she's out front."
[ ] "Spare a few drinks?"
[X] "Spare a few drinks?"
[ ] "Maybe she's out front."
[X] "Maybe she's out front."
[ ] "Maybe she's out front."
[X] "Maybe she's out front."

Need to have more 'war memories', Snake.
[X] "Maybe she's out front."
>"I would," I pause, looking behind me towards the idiot that started this mess for a brief second as I finally decide to set the bottle in my hands up on the table I'd accidentally cleared a moment ago. "But there's a spy in our midst."


[x] "Maybe she's out front."
[x] "Maybe she's out front."
"Maybe she's out front." I shrug. Truth is, I don't really know.

"I'll give it a look." Yuugi nods and walks off..

Back the way she came, out the back door. Wait, how is she--

I hear a thump come from the roof. Well, that explains it, I guess. I half expect her to come crashing back down into the room, with all the noise she's making running over the shrine. But my attention is soon turned elsewhere, as a pair of white-sleeved arms fall over my shoulders.

"Snaaaake~" It's Youmu, and judging from the sound of her voice she's had a few too many herself. Again, how long was I gone for? It couldn't have been more than a few minutes..

"Yes, what is it?" I ask, trying to keep my calm, and trying desperately to ignore the sensation of her leaning on my back. She may not be the most well-endowed girl around, but--

The side door slams open, and Satori walks in. What miserable timing..

"Oh, hey!" Aya confronts her before she even takes a step inside. "That Yuugi was lookin' for ya!"

"My," Satori replies in a cool, sober voice. Even only having spoken with her a moment ago, it seems refreshing when compared to the drunks lying around me. "Whatever for?"

"Dunno." Aya shrugs, mimicking my previous gesture down to the very way she holds her hands out. "She's probably out front."

"I see.." Satori quickly turns around and leaves, closing the door behind her. I get the feeling she'd rather not be mixed in with the rest of us. I wonder how she'd act after she'd had a few.. This may require further investigation.

"Snaaaaaaaaake~" Youmu throws her head over my shoulder now, too. If she weren't calling out my name so loudly I'd have likely thought her to be passed out.

"Yeah?" I ask, hoping that she'd quiet down just a little bit. Her entire body weight pressing against my back is uncomfortable, but at the same time it feels..


I've really gotta stop that.

Youmu doesn't answer me, which makes me a little curious. Why was she calling my name--practically yelling it out as if she were in a drunken sort of ecstasy? Or maybe..

"Oh, shit." She's not gonna--

"Snake, you.." Aya looks worried, but it almost seems like she's laughing as she speaks. "You might wanna get her outside."

[ ] Good idea.
[ ] She's fine.
[ ] Good idea.
[x] Good idea.

{X} Good idea.
[x] Good idea.
[x] Good idea.
[x] Good idea.

ah hell
Remember the basics of CQC, Snake
GiG is pretty easy modo today. Also,


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