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“It’s cold.”

“Much too cold.”

“Yes, I know, but what about…”

“No? Then why did we…”

“Actually, where is she?”

“What? I didn’t drive her off!”

“But you said…!”

“Hey! Don’t put this on me! And please stop worrying over it, that won’t solve anything. Listen, I’m sorry, but right now this place is in total disarray, so would you please help me do something about it? Just help get some warmth around here. And go find her while you’re at it, gods know where she’s wondered off to. And be careful, we’ve only just settled in. Who knows what’s out there.”

-----

Well this is just great. You have just been placed on “woodcutting” duty after spending who-knows-how-long trying to stay by Her side to keep Her safe to begin with! You guess it doesn’t help that you finally showed Her your humanoid form. As great as your natural form is, this one is just convenient. Come on, opposable thumbs! What’s better than those? Though it has meant that you’ve had to be more helpful than you anticipated. Such as the clearing of Youkai infested mansions.

You suppose it can’t be helped. After these numerous tedious days trying to make this dump a semi-decent place to live, you guess that after safety comes basic necessities of life, such as a source of warmth. Probably a consistent source of food too, but you’ll cross that bridge when you get there.

-----

Your name is Rin Kaenbyou. You are Youkai, specifically a kasha, of decent power. You have the joy of being able to hold the magical finesse to shapeshift from your natural twin-tailed cat form to a more prominent humanoid form. In this form, your long, ruby hair is decorated with black bows and falls down your back, over a simple black dress that’s conveniently retained as you shift.

You can hold power over spirits of the dead, which is convenient, considering you’ve chosen to reside in Hell, where spirits are abundant.

Well, former Hell. Ever since the Migration caused by the Yamas in a place known as Higan, but that’s neither here nor there. It does mean, however, that this place is a total wreck, pretty much in complete chaos.

Due to recent events, you now find yourself going to find some source of fire, of which you know this wreck of a mansion contains none. You would know, too, because you just recently finished emancipating the entire place of rogue Youkai and other beasties, and, though only a few days ago, is now the past, and thus a story for another time.

For now, you walk the halls of the mansion, known by those who care to remember it as “Chireiden”, or the Palace of the Earth Spirits. “Chireiden” rolls off the tongue better. You walk past the huge violet ironwood doors out to the mansion grounds, with a path to the front gate and the city proper.

The Capital, built deep within the cavern of the Underworld, is but a shadow of its former self. Tough once a place of power, with the Migration, it is now a den of lawless Youkai. Chireiden itself was a major building here in the residential district. Mansion and palace are in both its names, but it was more like a well-kept berthing house with many middle class tradesmen and what few lower class workers that kept the mansion in working order living within, and select upper class residing at the top floors.

If everything had to have a silver lining, here it would be absence of light. At one point in the past, the city may have lit up the whole cavern at all times, but those times have past. Now, there is nothing but darkness. Not that you mind, for as long as there is but even a scant bit of light, you can see perfectly. Here, the only source of light is from a breathtaking view right above you.

The cavern of the Underworld is a peculiar place. It’s located deep under the earth, past a special barrier placed on a nameless bridge to the surface, meant to deter those of the still living away. Although the surface and its large source of light are far away from here, life still finds a way. Before the Migration, a gigantic white crystal was lodged on the cavern ceiling, and shone with a brilliant light. With this light, and by the movement of the seeds of life, plant life had thrived. Large trees, similar to those on the surface, grew with wood stronger than the metal of the sharpest blades. Other plants, from ferns and thorns, to flowers and grass, grew leaves in hues of blues and purples. Life found a way down here, which made this place the spot to build the Capital, directly under the crystal.

Then the Migration happened, and the extreme amounts of magic needed to translocate the working city populous and its resources had shattered the crystal. With the crystal gone, the cavern flora seemed to drop into a state of hibernation. Plants stopped growing, trees lost their leaves, but nothing actually died, just laid dormant. The crystal that was the original main cause of life was still here, just in pieces.

Spread all across the top of the ceiling were crystal shards, still illuminating with their mysterious, but now muted, light. And in the near darkness, these shards appear, as what you’ve heard on the surface, as stars, silently twinkling in the permanent night. It is just as amazing now to see the crystals as it was when you first witnessed a surface night, with small points of light glittering way above your head in the distance.

You spend but a moment to take this in, quickly remember yourself, and leave the mansion grounds to find some source of heat. While you can simply turn back to your smaller natural form covered in fur, She seems to be much more susceptible to the lingering coolness of the underground. With this in mind, you stop to think of where to look for fire or such.

[ ] The ironwood trees, though tough, are still wood. They should burn, and would be quick to harvest.

[~] This may be the former Capital, but was still once a city, and they couldn’t have taken everything with them in the Migration. Search around for something useful. Maybe something warm.

[ ] You know a guy, who knows an Oni, who knows a guy who could help you out. For a price.

[ ] Actually, even though you had to visit every room in Chireiden to rid the stray Youkai, maybe you actually did miss something. A quick second check wouldn’t hurt.

[ ] Write in.
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Author's Corner
Hello and hi. This is my first story and attempted submission to the NaNoWriMo challenge imposed by Rabbit, which can be found here:
>>/gensokyo/11961
I know it seems like a hell of a way to start for a first time writer here, but I wanted to jump in somewhere, and starting with a possible train wreck seemed like a good idea at the time.

Nothing is prewritten before November 1st, and with the attempted daily updates, I don't think anything really will ever be prewritten. This also means that with the frequency of updates, not every post will have a voting choice, and those that do may not have immediate results in the very next post. In the beginning here, if no votes are generated, I'll go with the vote with a "~".

Finally, I'd love to hear feedback on my writing, and if anyone has any objections to a possible wreck on this board and thinks it should be moved to /th/ or /others/, I can do so.

Oh, and I'm basing my midnight deadline on EST.
[x] This may be the former Capital, but was still once a city, and they couldn’t have taken everything with them in the Migration. Search around for something useful. Maybe something warm.
[~] This may be the former Capital, but was still once a city, and they couldn’t have taken everything with them in the Migration. Search around for something useful. Maybe something warm.

Welcome! I hope you do well in the contest.

The only real concern I have so far is that you use the comma a lot more than what's necessary. There are several examples of this being the case, but the excerpt below is the most prominent.

> You would know, too, because you just recently finished emancipating the entire place of rogue Youkai and other beasties, and, though only a few days ago, is now the past, and thus a story for another time.

You could divide this section into individual sentences, instead of mashing a bunch of thoughts into one sentence.
[~] This may be the former Capital, but was still once a city, and they couldn’t have taken everything with them in the Migration. Search around for something useful. Maybe something warm.

Keep it up, this story looks quite interesting. I would recommend using longer paragraphs though.
[X] You know a guy, who knows an Oni, who knows a guy who could help you out. For a price.
[x] This may be the former Capital, but was still once a city, and they couldn’t have taken everything with them in the Migration. Search around for something useful. Maybe something warm.

Hm, this looks promising. Good luck with it!
Yeah, longer paragraphs, less commas, the rest is great.

[~] This may be the former Capital, but was still once a city, and they couldn’t have taken everything with them in the Migration. Search around for something useful. Maybe something warm
[~] This may be the former Capital, but was still once a city, and they couldn’t have taken everything with them in the Migration. Search around for something useful. Maybe something warm.

Another interesting new story!

I have to say, your plan in case of no votes is interesting. I'd never thought of doing that before.
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[X] This may be the former Capital, but was still once a city and they couldn’t have taken everything with them in the Migration. Search around for something useful. Maybe something warm.

While the ironwoods may work, it might also help to actually have a way to move a lot of it. You also are not sure what you were thinking in asking someone who could possibly be some thuggish loan shark without being prepared. You may have lived here all your life and know how to take care of yourself, but that also involved knowing what Youkai to avoid all together. There are some rather nasty types you hope you never have to deal with here, but in the back of your mind, you know it to eventually be inevitable. Enough of that though, you have a whole city to scavenge, and you know just where to start too.

Large ironwood walls section off the Capital, separating its various districts. Currently you’re in the residential district, which in itself is further segregated into the upper class and middle class sections, with the lower class mostly living either in the outskirts and fields or beneath the streets. Of course, with the state of things now, that all means nothing to its current occupants. Almost as soon as the Migration happened, the many rejects that weren’t translocated quickly ransacked and pillaged almost every building in the city. Most of the storehouses in the merchant’s district were emptied nearly instantly, save the few storehouses that were warded to probably keep some horrible Youkai from getting whatever was inside, else the very type of havoc that was happening would occur.

Those very storehouses are where you are heading to now. The stores had held nearly every raw and crafted good this city held, which was a surprising amount for a place located out of the way of the world itself.

This city wasn’t called the Capital arbitrarily, as there was a vast network of subterranean villages and tribes of Youkai that constantly kept trade demand high. The city may have been created by the Yamas for the further processing of souls, but that really was all they wanted it for. Thus, the residents found ways to entertain their selves and numerous crafts were created, from weapons to very buildings, all to alleviate the tedium of everyday life, for even Youkai can become bored at times. Truly, most marvels of the Youkai world would not be what they were if not for nothing else to do. And marvels they were, as village merchants heard of the quality of goods the city made, and flooded the at-the-time small city to buy as much as they could and bring back with them to be resold. The merchant’s district was a forgone conclusion that was constructed almost overnight, made with shops and stores full of a variety of merchandise.

Now a days, the merchant’s district has been either completely deprived of its valuables, or claimed by groups of Youkai. One notable group is a tribe of rather cultured Oni, with their partying and drinking able to be heard even now. Even if their intentions aren’t the most malevolent, interacting with them may not be healthy for your physical integrity, so maybe some other time. For now, you wonder over to the darker alleys of the storehouses.

A wreck this place may be, navigation proves easy as long as you naturally shift and climb the rooftops. As awesome as they are, opposable thumbs still can’t beat a cat’s finesse. From this height, on the other side of the district you spy the lingering smoke of some Oni’s party dying off. Stealing from the Oni is the last thing you want to do, so you head to the opposite end of the district. Hopping roof to roof, you quickly reach your destination. You stand in front of one of the few warded stores that have yet to be touched. The idea is that if you are to find anything useful in the long term, it will be in one of these houses.

The warded stores are a curiosity. The wards were obviously placed to keep others out, but it seems as if they were meant to keep everyone out permanently, as not even those who created them have ever been seen to enter or leave them. Post Migration, a few Youkai eventually attempted to break past the wards, but were rewarded with flames blowing out the sealed doors and windows, and the subsequent collapse of the store. Whatever was in there had been incinerated, never to be recovered or identified. A peculiar fact was that the Youkai had not expected the flame trap, as those bright enough to understand the weaving magics of the wards only told of the inability to enter a space, so the robbers only figured a way to force their selves past it, not preparing for the unknown fires. Your idea stems from this fact; you are going to find the source of the flames and salvage it, with the contents of the stores as a possible bonus.

All things are controllable if you deal with them correctly, and whatever made those flames should be able to be toned down to output its energy over a long deration of time, rather than all at once in a large fireball. The question is, how avoid making that fireball that could sear off your eyebrows in the first place?

[~] Nothing’s perfect, especially buildings. Be a cat and find some hole to crawl through.
[ ] Magic is not perfect either. Find the ward’s focal point on the building and remove it.
[ ] An Oni could help, if they’re sober enough to understand you.
[ ] You could manipulate some of the wondering spirits into finding a way inside.
[ ] Blowing it up might actually work. Try to cause it to collapse, and salvage what remains. This might attract attention though.
[ ] Actually, this is a bad idea. Instead let’s…
- [ ] Search the unwarded stores. Maybe everyone missed something over these years?
- [ ] Ask the Oni for help. You’re sure they will share their heat source. After what could be described as possible physical abuse.
- [ ] Search elsewhere. (Select a vote from previous post)
[ ] Write in.
[x] You could manipulate some of the wondering spirits into finding a way inside.

Use the spirits to scout all of the wards, and take them apart piece by piece.
[X] You could manipulate some of the wondering spirits into finding a way inside.

Gotta use those powers.
[x] Nothing’s perfect, especially buildings. Be a cat and find some hole to crawl through.
[X] Magic is not perfect either. Find the ward’s focal point on the building and remove it.

The goal is to get the source of the flames without setting it off. That means disarming it, preferably from the outside.
[X] You could manipulate some of the wondering spirits into finding a way inside
[X] Magic is not perfect either. Find the ward’s focal point on the building and remove it.
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[X] You could manipulate some of the wondering spirits into finding a way inside.

Tampering with the building or wards yourself doesn’t seem like a very bright idea. Sure, you could crawl through a hole, but that might trigger some trap and blow the place. Removing the ward’s sigil may prove the same results, as all you have are your destructive fireballs. They’re nothing amazing, just small spheres of magic packed dense and then catch flame. You’ve tried to lessen their power before, but all you could manage before they failed to light at all was still too much to be controllable in delicate situations.

You still plan on getting past the ward, you just won’t be the first one to step inside; you’re going to get the spirits to do it!

Yes, the spirits. Probably the only other sources of what little light is down here. In true ghastly fashion, the smaller, calmer ones glow an eerie blue. The even lesser spirits don’t glow at all, becoming effectively invisible in this dark. They all are simple human spirits, previously sent down here to serve time in torment, only to be permanently sealed away with the Migration, forced to slowly wonder mindlessly as an eternity passes around them. Other unfortunate souls that arrive here these day are usually ones that slip through the cracks of judgment, usually by way of irresponsible shinigami who pass through here, and again end up here for the rest of existence. You’re not exactly sure why the lost spirits aren’t recovered, but you’ve heard rumors that all shinigami have been forbidden from interacting with anyone or thing in this old Hell, even if they lost it was something they lost their selves.

While these souls of sorrow are in abundance and expendability, they’re completely useless. Without any form of cognizance, they won’t be able to comprehend even the most basic of commands, save a simple move order. Even then, while they eventually make their mark, they seem to have no sense of haste or accuracy; they always slowly drift in chaotic paths to the specified point. No, what this job needs is something that can at least think, even if those thoughts are of violence and rage. You’re going to grab a vengeful spirit.

Vengeful spirits, the bane of human and Youkai existence alike. They are nasty things, originally regular human spirits recently past. Human spirits are not immediately sent to Higan, for they first must either make their way over to a great ethereal river known as the Sanzu to be ferried over by boat, or else wonder aimlessly, to be picked up and collected by shinigami. If, before either case, anything happens to the human’s body before they cross, the spirit will notice no matter where they are in the world and become filled with malice and hate. They proceed to attempt to wreak havoc upon the land, wanting to punish those who would and could defile their body, along with those who failed to protect them in the first place.

A vengeful spirit has the ability of possession, of taking control of another’s mind and body, and eventually even spirit. For a human, this means becoming ripped from the cycle of life and being sent straight to old Hell, they themselves now vengeful spirits. However, it is said that for a Youkai, it is even worse.

Youkai are the creations of the very magic of the land itself. Magic of all types flows through the world, with some types more prevalent in a few areas more so than others. Under certain conditions, this magic may coalesce, becoming confined to an object, animal, or forming a new body entirely. Thus, life is created in the body, made from natural energies. Youkai then proceed to live for hundreds, even thousands of years. Eventually coming to an end, their bodies dissipate back into the basic energies that made them, becoming one with the land once more, never actually dying. In turn, they don’t hold traditional souls either.

And then a vengeful spirit assaults them. A human has a chance of surviving, their very soul combatting the evil spirit, at times even winning. Youkai do not have this privilege. A spirit may immediately take complete control over a Youkai’s body and mind, effectively erasing the being of the Youkai from existence, never to return back to nature.

Thankfully the Yama are not to keen to letting humans be killed before their time, in turn also saving Youkai. They are quickly grabbed by shinigami and deposited here in old Hell.

Apparently this place still serves a purpose as a dumping ground.

It is these evil spirits that you are going to use to enter the storehouse, for they are the only ones competent enough to understand and carry out commands, albeit with a bit of reluctance. You are fully aware of the dangers of being in the proximity of one, but you are completely confident in your abilities, even those you don’t get to use too often. You make your way to quickly locate one.

For raging spirits, they’re pretty predictable, and much more noticeable. When a normal spirit becomes vengeful, the most prominent sin they committed in life will manifest and magnify, enveloping the wisp of the spirit in a relatively bright flame, its color representing their past. The wisp itself then warps into a shape akin to a human skull, only adding to their uncanniness. Light blue flamed spirits are the most common, indicating a want for more than they ever had, and a sorrow of worldly possessions lost in passing. They congregate near areas that represent abundant resources, even if nothing is to be found there. Conveniently, that includes storehouses.

Entering the first store near your warded one immediately yields surprising results. Near the rafters of the store are four absentminded spirits, their wrath known in the flame that engulfs them. Usually you could expect many more, around ten or so, so this is quite a convenience.

A thought quickly enters your mind, which you dismiss instantly. The idea of using the constant flames of a spirit, while possible, would only end in tears. The fires they can produce are cursed, and being anywhere near them could result in any number of tragedies and ailments.

The question now is of how to procure one of the spirits without inciting the fury of the others. Though they seek to end life, vengeful spirits are still able to forget themselves in the proximity of those locations they desire. They are then unlike regular spirits, floating near and around their place of want. They usually eventually locate themselves high off the ground, though still in the area, but of no threat to those passing by on the ground. It isn’t until they are finally disturbed that they are once again hostile. Interestingly, disturbing their place or object of desire does not incite them in any way, they just float along following it.

Knowing all this, you quickly think of how to go about this. Your power deals with establishing a magical “mental” connection with the spirits, probably not unlike what She can do, if more commanding, and ordering them to your bidding. Every spirit you’ve had the chance to grace with your power has always fought back, and you are sure this is to be no different. With single lone spirits, the process is simple; establish magical link, attempt to assert dominance, the spirit resists, quickly locates you, and charges, you blast it with a few of your small fireballs, it becomes whacked senseless, and finally you reassert dominance and begin giving orders. Simple.

Their being four of them may prove problematic however. When one becomes irate, almost every other spirit in the vicinity also become hostile. One is easy enough to take, maybe even two if you incapacitate the other quickly enough. Four may be magically burdening for you to tackle head on. Spirits in general are nigh impossible to destroy entirely. Though you have heard stories of weapons with the ability, you possess none. You have found that hitting spirits with your fireballs only manages to stun them for all of a second before they once again pursue you, during which is when you reassert yourself. Direct combat with the number may not be the best idea, but you also like a challenge you can work yourself around. If nothing else, practicing your combat reflexes and prowess always helps in the long run.

Whatever you do, you need to connect with one of them before they notice you, else their blind rage they develop might completely ignore you. At least if you do so before the fact, they know of you and your powers upon reaffirmation, instead of outright ignoring you.

You take note their relative locations. One is located on the far end of the house, a prime target save for the fact that the door you’re at is the only one in and out, so you would have to take on the other three deep within the walls. Another slowly circles over a large pile of crates long since emptied. Maybe it could be used for cover or hiding? Finally, the last two are close to you, hovering high above you next to each other. You could probably engage those two without bothering the other two. It seems like they’re far enough away.

Still, you sit for a minute and think of a few other ways to handle this.

(Vote for all applicable)
What to do?
[ ] Attack directly! You could use the practice.
[ ] You’re a bloody cat, be sneaky and try to divert and confuse them, in as much as they can be confused.
[ ] Actually…
- [ ] Let’s try our luck with a different store. Hopefully there will be even less spirits. Or more… Or you’ll run into a Youkai den…
- [ ] Nope, changed your mind, you’re getting in the warded store yourself. (Select from previous post)
[ ] Write in.

If going through with it, who to control?
[ ] The far one, you should have enough time to control it before the other’s notice.
[ ] The one over the crates. In fact, those crates may even prove useful.
[ ] One right over you. You’ll be able to run outside and deal with them there.
- { } OPTIONAL: You’re feeling experimental. You’re going to try to control both of them at the same time.
Hi again. Thanks for the advice, I guess you can see for yourselves how well I'm applying it.

Honestly, I'm surprised this many of you are voting. No offence, but this didn't seem like a very active board. I know it's only been three posts, but how is it so far? I'm amazing myself of how much I'm putting out, what with all the other things I'm currently doing in life, and was wondering about the content and quality, even in a rush. I've been thankful that this started on the weekend, and while I'll try my damnedest to meet the midnight schedule, the updates might be smaller than these three. Hopefully not worse in quality though.

My thanks to everyone reading and voting.

Also, derp in forgetting some basics.
[X] Attack directly! You could use the practice.
[X] One right over you. You’ll be able to run outside and deal with them there.
-{X} You’re feeling experimental. You’re going to try to control both of them at the same time.

I get the feeling going for the far one will, in fact, pull all of them as it passes. Get the first two outside and maybe the others won't notice.
[X] You’re a bloody cat, be sneaky and try to divert and confuse them, in as much as they can be confused.
[X] The one over the crates. In fact, those crates may even prove useful.

The setting details are very nice. Keep up the good work.
[X] Attack directly! You could use the practice.
[X] One right over you. You’ll be able to run outside and deal with them there.

Eh, these things seem to respond best to direct force. Might as well be forward about it.
[X] The one over the crates. In fact, those crates may even prove useful.
[X] Move the crates outside, away from the others.

It's fairly apparent that the spirit hovering over them would follow, and you already know that tampering with the object they like doesn't upset them.
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[X] Attack directly! You could use the practice.
[X] One right over you. You’ll be able to run outside and deal with them there.

You would rather this be done quickly and efficiently. You ready yourself for what you hope will be a relatively straightforward conflict.


You start by taking note of the area around you. You currently stand in the only doorway, a large double wide entry, at one point in time secured by thick wooden doors. Here, you can clearly see the far back wall of the store, it mostly being devoid of anything save the crate pile near the middle. You then set your sights on the two spirits directly above you. As large as the store is, the possible risk of being cornered while pursuing one of the lone spirits is far outweighed by the freedom of luring the two near you right outside into more open space. You only hope that this can be resolved before someone takes notice.

It’s time to strike. Taking a concentrative stance in the doorway, you hold your hand out to the closer spirit and establish the magical bond. You immediately gain knowledge of all its thoughts, all its motives, lain out plainly in front of you for your perusal. You perceive them as images of snippets of their desires. Unsurprisingly, you see rapidly shifting images of a past life filled with greed over worldly belongings. Eventually you find what you were searching for: a number of consecutive images of a human male, wallowing in his imaginary hoard.

Personally, you find it sickeningly amusing how unproductive to their own society some humans wish to be. In previous spirits, you’ve seen images of humans who already barely contributed to their villages, yet they somehow still had delusions of luxurious lives filled with greed, gluttony, and idleness. They wished for these things while knowing that they were not contributing anything in any way. What’s more, some of them even felt like they were entitled to such a life, just for existing, possibly becoming a burden, perhaps even detriment, to their society. You sometimes wonder how the human race has lasted as long as it has without killing itself.

Between maintaining the link and seeing these pitiful memories, you start to grow weary, so you take the initiative and “yell” at the man in the unbroken chain of images.

‘Alright you greedy bastard, get your dead self over here and do as I say!’

The process of forcing passive obedience is actually completely wordless, but you like to think you’re actually telling some human off. You never expect it to work the first time, as it’s only meant to establish your presence in their little world.

You see the image of the man instantly take notice, as if someone actually spoke to him, looking around his small room for whoever called.

His eyes finally meet yours.

Your vision erupts in bright blue flames as the man becomes furious towards you, unfazed by his now blazing world. This is your cue that the spirit has noticed and took exception to your magical intrusion. Lessening but still maintaining your hold on the link, your vision fully returns to reality.

You barely dodge the charge of the enraged spirit.

Diving away and out of the storehouse, you roll to a stop, taking a quick inventory of the situation. Good, the link is still holding. Trying to re-establish a link at this point would be far more trouble than it’s worth.

You notice the spirit setting up for another charge. Now outside, you find it easy to outmaneuver the spirit, your catlike reflexes acting swiftly. You may be fast, but you’ve seen nothing beat the straight line rush of a vengeful spirit. At times, you could swear you felt the lick of the spirit’s flames as it barely misses your extremities.

Interrupting your less-than-friendly game of dodge-‘em-up, the second spirit comes bolting out of the doorway, now aware of the disturbance. You’ll have none of it, and sling a fastball towards its skull of a face. The fireball meets its mark and explodes in an excessive show of flame. You find personal enjoyment in using these types of fireballs, as even if you miss, the explosion will still envelop your enemy.

The smoke quickly dissipates and you see the second spirit has, as expected, already recovered. Finding you once more, it once again charges. You make another dive as the first spirit passes, position the second between you and the storehouse door, and begin lobbing an endless volley of flames at it. You make your final move as the smoke lingers, and throw a special concentrated fireball at your target spirit. Making contact, the ball does not explode, instead surrounding the spirit in a hollow sphere of magical flame, able to immobilize it for but a scant few seconds longer. You then close your eyes to refocus on your mental link and make your decisive command.

‘I SAID OBEY ME! NOW STOP!’

With that command, you break the link to witness the results. Your vision clears in time for you to see the cage of flame dissolve, leaving the spirit once again free. You ready yourself in preparation for its charge, but it never comes. The spirit only stares at you with its unmoving eye sockets, docile and under your command. Mentally exhausted, you lay on the ground to stare at the perpetual stars.

Honestly, you thought this would turn out worse, with you running from four angry spirits in the end. With only the two of them though, it was manageable. You had blasted the other spirit back into the store, since taking over the first spirit caused it to forget itself once again, it having only attacked you out of a weak calling from another to do so. With the call of the first spirit silenced and the second spirit now back in the storehouse, it would no doubt resume drowning itself in its own sins and sorrows.

Reflecting, you find yourself fatigued even thinking about the magic you used. The simple cage of fire you made requires a surprising amount of effort to create in mid combat, and with you trying to maintain the link, you really didn’t intend on having to use it. Your little stunt with the cage while maintaining a delicate magical link to your now submissive spirit left you feeling a bit drained. Magic isn’t something you practice every day.

You eventually get to your feet and ascend to the storehouse rooftops, only to flop right back onto your back. The view here seems perfect. The stars shine beautifully. Your acquaintance floats nearby and emits its soft cerulean glow. It’s times like these when you feel like the weight of the world is just falling off your shoulders.

The light of the stars slowly fade…

Your mind wonders…
[ ] What are you doing?
[ ] Why are you here?
[ ] Where did she go?
[ ] Who is She?
[X] Who is She?

Must be awfully important to risk life and limb like this.
[X] Who is She?
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[X] Who is She?



-----

You swear, year after year, it gets tougher and tougher to come up here. Between the ever growing amount of territorial underground residents and the endless cave-ins, you are surprised you survived with your fur intact. A passageway you frequented in previous travels had finally collapsed, and, insistent on reaching your destination, you found a detour through which your small form fit. It led you under a nasty nest of cave spiders, which proceeded to attempt to catch you. You really need to find a better way around this place.

For right now though, you couldn’t care less. You’re finally on the surface, ready to take your yearly stroll. It seems you’ve timed it perfectly too, as the great flaming disk in the sky peaks over the eastern mountain tops, signaling the start of a new day. While you are completely comfortable living in the Underworld, you find the surface world captivating. It wasn’t until a few years ago when you found a safe route up here, and every year you come back, to explore a little longer, a little further. You only find yourself going back underground instinctively, something in the back of your mind telling you that this world is not your own. As they say, ‘curiosity killed the cat’, and you would rather avoid that.

With thoughts of possible unknown danger set aside, you set off anyway, in some direction on a whim. The twisting and turning passageways of the underground peak out of the ground at times, forming cave mouths, usually around the mountains. No matter which one you leave out of, you find your sense of direction perfect for getting you back home, as long as you reach any mouth you’ve previously used.

Traveling along the mountain base, you take in your surroundings; you travel through a rather deciduous area, the huge trees and their emerald leaves astounding you. In your small form, you feel dwarfed next to these green giants. Everything up here is just so lively, so full of color in comparison to the gloominess of the Underworld and its slumbering plant life. You find it invigorating just walking around up here! If this is how you feel walking, then…

You break out in a sprint.

You feel the cool morning wind on your fur as you move at blinding speeds, snaking between the trees. You just feel so full of energy! You want to see it all! You feel like you could climb the tallest mountain, run the furthest distance, take on nature itself!

The world is yours to explore.

-----

You don’t make it very far. It’s the same as before. As much as you love it here in the light, the sun eventually sets. Darkness begins to set in. You would think that you would find the night even better, as if back in your own element in the shadowy Underworld. But… something about the land just strikes you as off, but you can’t place what. Then you get that abrupt feeling of dread. Of what, you do not know, only having a sudden desire to find safety, to be back in the Capital, to be with your friend who awaits for eventual return. You hurry back to the mountain base, wanting to quickly find your cave entrance and be back home.

Right, this should be the place. Here in this empty field. Wait, that’s not right. Maybe it was over here? No, nothing there either. You’re beginning to think that maybe your superb sense of direction isn’t use to the surface world. Still, there should be at least one cave entrance around here somewhere. Ah, there!

Situated in the base of a cliff face, you find sanctuary. You may have never been to this particular entrance before, but you feel that you would fair better against underground denizens than what ever nocturnal creatures the surface holds. Entering the cave, you feel instant relief, the lingering anxiety lifting. Your eyes try to adjust to the diminishing light from the setting sun as you move deeper in the cave, but there comes a point when even your feline eyes fail you, and you light the red tips of your tails. It’s nothing special, being barely brighter than a fire’s dying embers. Still, it’s sufficient enough to allow your field of view to extend well beyond the distance you were currently seeing.

You’re seeing a wall. Huh. Swinging around, you see no other paths that delve deeper underground, and you’re sure that you didn’t pass any coming in. Well crap, it’s an isolated cave that goes nowhere. Well, at least you didn’t find anyone insi-

Oh, there’s a ring of stones on the ground, along with what appears to be some matting in the corner. There’s a small wood pile by the wall, and what could possibly be dried meat in some makeshift basket…

Someone lives here. Once again, that dreadful feeling falls over you, until you take a second look. It doesn’t seem like anyone has used this place in weeks, maybe even months. Maybe you could rest here. At best, you can wake in the morning to continue finding your way home, and at worst, well, you just hope that whoever wants to live in the back of a cave is friendlier than whatever comes out at night up here.

With a slight hint of relief in you, you carefully make your way over to the matting. Made of a rough cloth draped over some straw, it’s nothing like your fluffy little bed of pillows you found back underground, but you’re exhausted. The faster to get to sleep, the faster this night can be over with.

Your eyes close…



-----

That’s a nice melody. It resonates in your mind, relaxing you. Your friend hums many things, but you’ve never heard this one. And by-the-gods do you love it when she pets your fur, their fingers scratching behind your ears, never going against the coat. You could fall asleep all over again…

Wait…

You jolt upright, race towards the nearest wall, and arch yourself to hiss at this newcomer. Who do they think they are, just coming up to sleeping animals and having their way with them? You look over your possible assailant, and see…

A young woman? She looks as if she had seen better days, with her short pink hair clad with debris, and dirt all across her ragged clothing. She wears a simple light blue dress that meets her knees, patches strewn across the material. Her face is soft, her eyes showing no signs of ill intent. You notice small cuts and bruises, some aged, some fresh. She almost appears human, save for her most striking feature: Small red and yellow tubes, no wider than a finger, extrude from numerous locations on her body, all to converge on a sphere the size of a fist. You can’t help but stare into the sphere.

The sphere stares back.
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[X] What the…

You’ve seen some crazy things in your lifetime, and this is probably going up there with them. A wave of emotions wash over you; surprise, confusion, anger, fear, and sadness. Who is she? What is she? Is she dangerous? Could you take her? She seems friendly enough, but what if it’s all a rouse? You’ve been backstabbed before, so what if-

“Hey there kitty. It’s ok, I won’t hurt you.”

Her voice snaps you back to reality. She’s soft-spoken, her velvety voice almost relaxing to your ears, calming you. The fire pit is lit and casts soft light over her. You take another, more level headed look at her. Although appearing friendly, her rough appearance suggests she’s been in a recent scuffle. More thoughts of possible hostility flash through your mind, but you dismiss these thought as you look upon her. She’s shaking, her eyes tearful, and her breathing rough. She speaks again.

“Oh, ah, um, yes, hi. I know I might have startled you in your slumber, but you looked comfortable, and your fur so soft, and your tails kind of cool, and I needed somewhere to stay for the night…”

Her voice wavers as she speaks, making known her pain. You know not from what, but you know she truly means no harm. You slowly approach.

“Yes, I’m sorry for disturbing you. I was hoping you didn’t mind sharing in here. Would… would you mind if I pet you some more?” she asks as she extends her hand out toward you.

You weigh your options. You could either leave this place entirely, with it being the middle of the night, stay here and keep a suspicious eye on her, or receive some more petting that you always love.

Well, if you die, at least you’ll die happy.

You move closer to her hand, study it for all of a second, and bury your head into it. She takes this as a sign of acceptance and proceeds to give you the affection you love. Despite her rough appearance, her hands are as soft and delicate as an angel’s. Her hands carefully move over your head and across your back, with perfect pressure and speed and you just can’t get enough, and hop into her lap. Sometimes, it’s just the simple things in life that keep you going, and this is definitely one of them.

“Thank you for trusting me. I know I’m just some random roughed up stranger, but… It’s just been a long day for me. First I lost my sister, then I lose our home. I know she can fend for herself if need be, but… I’m sorry, I’m just going on a tangent and you’re just trying to relax. That’s ok, though, this is probably as comforting for me as it is for you.”

She’s really good at this. It’s like she knows exactly where to scratch at all times. It’s amazing, glorious even. Buried in your pleasure, you still take the time to listen to her laments. Her story seems depressing enough; though Youkai, loss of home and family is something you can understand. You’re just surprised at how talkative she is. It’s not like you can respond back, at least not like this, and you really don’t feel like shifting anyway, especially on the surface. The smaller you are, the less attention you draw.

“It’s ok, you don’t have to respond. Just knowing you’re listening and understanding is more than enough for me.”

Oh, well that’s good. You might not know all the details, but gain some delight in knowing that you’re able to be a small comfort to her.

Wait. What?

‘What?’, you think again.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I forget myself. I just… I know other’s don’t want me intruding, but it a bit difficult communicating with animals like you otherwise. But…” She stops stroking you, now looking down upon you. You bring your head off her lap to meet her eyes. She’s tearing up.

“You’re not like the other animals and lesser Youkai, are you? You actually understand me, right? I don’t mean to see your mind, but it just happens. It’s like trying to not look at what’s right in your face! I understand why they hated us, why they sought us out, and destroyed our home, but why at such an extreme!?”

She becomes ecstatic, her words and emotions almost at the breaking point.

“All we ever did to them was be social. She would go play with the children, and the rest of them wouldn’t mind. Of course they knew she and I were Youkai; it was obvious. But we were one of the few of those Youkai ‘accepted’ by the populous, as we never meant any harm, and they realized that. Then they found out of our actual powers. Then they came… I wasn’t around, and thankfully neither was she, but… It was all destroyed. Then they found us at our ruined home. We decided to split apart, knowing that with our powers, we would be able to find each other again one day. For now, it was for our own safety that we did. And now here I am, telling you of this. I’m sorry, I know you didn’t want to hear all that, but I just wish that more people were accepting of others. Even mind readers.”

After quickly telling her tail, she calms. She closes her eyes, holding back her tears, and takes a deep breath.

“Again, forgive me for passing my sorrows on to you. I just needed to talk to someone, even if you didn’t understand it all…”

‘… You can read my mind?’

“Oh, ah, yes. It’s my kind’s ability, one we may express through our eye and heart.” She encloses her hands around her eyed sphere, as if presenting it to you. As odd as it looks, it seems fitting for her, in a way. “As I’ve probably said incoherently, it’s been as much a blessing as it has been a curse. I can’t change the way I was made, I know this, but I’m sure others wish that I could. There’s a village in this land, human, and me and my sister use to visit it regularly. The natives were weary of us, as they understandably were of all Youkai, but grew to know us.

“We visited many a time, and all the while we assumed they knew of our power of the mind. Then one day, they truly found out. They were enraged, and we ran. This was three nights ago, and here I am, hiding in some cave gods-know-where, not knowing where my sister is, only that she’s still safe.”

Hearing this story gets you thinking. You’ve heard the stories, of surface Youkai shunning and assaulting certain other Youkai, forcing them underground; of humans who indiscriminately despise all Youkai equally, sometimes going to great lengths to attempt to remove them from the land entirely. It’s the reason you’re so cautious about being up here. As great a place it is, it isn’t without its dangers. The underground is no different, but you’re out of your element up here.

“It really is lovely out here, with the plants blooming and the stars shining. But I fear my time here may be coming to an end. I don’t want it to, but just as you’ve heard, I believe these humans will stop at nothing to find me. Um… not to be rude, but you mentioned something about going underground? Other Youkai are able to live down there? It sounds cramped.”

‘It’s actually really spacious once you go deep enough. There’s even plants and trees just like up here, even a whole city!’ you think. It’s not everyday that you get to express the greatness of the Underworld, even in its current state.

“Really? Like, me and my sister could find an actual house to live in? In a place undisturbed by others? Where we could be accepted?”

Her eyes twinkle with delight, but she quickly remembers herself.

“Ah, I didn’t mean to intrude on your own home. It would just be nice to be away from this world for awhile.”

‘Oh, no problem. I actually know of a number of places where I’m sure you could call home. It’s pretty quite down there. I hope you don’t mind the dark, though.’

“Oh, no, that’s fine. I’m sure we can cope.” She expresses wonder as a thought crosses her mind.

“You know, I never introduced myself. My name is <b><i>Satori Komeiji</i></b>.”

Then the humans found you both. They greet Satori with an arrow to her chest.

-----



“No!” you exclaim, jolting yourself awake. You find yourself back in the land of the conscious, your voice echoing between the stores. You think back on your dream, but find you are too distracted by the thought of what might have heard you.

Glancing around, you see nothing notable out of the ordinary, your recently captured spirit still staring at you with unfeeling eyes. Judging by the faint light of the crystals, you estimate you were out for but an hour. An oddity of the crystals is that at times, they dim and go out at predictable intervals, as if simulating a pseudo night sky. You’ve taken the time to hazard a guess that it has something to do with the flow of magic cycling through the cavern, it constantly interfering with whatever magics are keeping the crystals aglow.

Gathering your wits, you finally set off to getting inside that warded storehouse.

“Come on then,” you say, ordering your spirit to follow. After taking control of a spirit, the magic link that you use to communicate with it breaks, having served its purpose. At this point, you’re left having to verbally bark commands to the spirit, with it always reluctantly obeying. The loyalty of the spirit won’t diminish with time, but rather by number of orders. They are always fighting against the initial order of pacifism, and with each subsequent command, the hold of the first weakens. Apparently it has something to do with the will of the spirit fighting back, wanting to become more and more rebellious as each command stacks. In any case, you will have to keep an eye on it as you tell it what to do, for after any command it could turn on you. You’ve found that, on average, a spirit will follow around ten commands.

With that in mind, you find yourself once again in front of your target. And again, you question how this is going to work.

<b>Order your spirit to…</b>
[ ] Find a hole, get inside, come back out, and ‘tell’ of its findings.
[ ] Get inside and find some way to make a larger opening.
[ ] Find the ward focals and singe them.
[ ] Stand guard and spook scavengers away.

<b>While you…</b>
[ ] (Also) Go inside the hole.
[ ] Stand close by, watching for anyone becoming too curious.
[ ] Remove the focals.
[ ] Stand waaaaaaay back.
[X] Find the ward focals and singe them.
[X] Stand waaaaaaay back.

Either this works and we get full access to the storehouse's contents, or it explodes spectacularly.

Also, did you read the FAQ? The text input uses bbcode for formatting. That means square brackets, not chevrons.
>>12330
I did, at one point in time. Then I found I couldn't delete my post. Oh well, this is all a learning experience.
[X] Find a hole, get inside, look for the ward focals, come back out, and ‘tell’ of its findings.
[X] Stand waaaaaaay back.
[X] Find the ward focals and singe them.
[X] Stand waaaaaaay back.
[X] Find the ward focals and singe them.
[X] Stand waaaaaaay back.

Good enough plan.
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[X] Find the ward focals and singe them.
[X] Stand waaaaaaay back.

If you know anything about warding magic, it’s that these things are never imbued into a whole location. As effective as it would be, it would require an exuberant amount of time and resources to enchant an entire area any bigger than a chest of importance. Rather, the enchanters most likely decided to imbue a few keystones or hidden locations around the store as foci, and allowed its magics to be spread to encompass the whole building. Furthermore, considering the purpose of permanently sealing the place, the foci would have to be located on the outside of the store to allow the casters to monitor and maintain the spell without defeating the purpose of the spell. It’s best that a caster doesn’t leave any loopholes in the making of spells of control, least the beastie you’re containing finds it and bites your head off…

Slowly walking a lap around the store’s perimeter, you order your spirit to follow you, travelling along the walls, while you watch expectantly. The spirits have quite an affinity towards high energy locations, and tend to congregate around them if they fail to otherwise find locations of their desired, and even under your control, this one is no exception.

Moving alongside the first section of wall, about halfway down you notice the spirit is still following, but now has a tendency to drift upwards towards the top of the wall. You stop, your spirit doing the same, and order your spirit to not follow as closely. Now having more room to stray, it slowly rises to a level at the top of the wall and stays, now waiting to follow.

It’s a keystone. You figured as much, but wanted to make sure now that you have your minion. Continuing your search, you find three other foci also in keystones similar to the first. With the easy work done, now comes the delicate part; how to remove them, least you level the area? The last group of Youkai to bypass the wards didn’t immediately trigger the trap; it was only when they attempted to entered did everything go downhill. Maybe there’s a physical trap inside? Who knows, but standing around isn’t going to yield any results. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, though screwing this up might count as a loss.

Removal if any type of ward is as simple as hitting the focus with a bigger spell. You, however, do not possess spells of the power required to rid the keystones of the foci, but you do have your spirit. As described, the flames of a spirit are cursed; anything near them tends to find themselves weaker. Maybe this could also apply to magic? Magic is far from absolute; it’s just energy that flows with nature, stemming from almost every aspect of creation. It’s movements can be manipulated to form spells, and interfered with to interrupt them. The possible interference of the spirit’s flames might be enough to allow you to hit the foci and get rid of them. This is all under the assumption that the wards truly aren’t the ones that will level the building if you mess up.

Getting to it, you instruct your spirit to singe the stones. With some amount of safety in mind, you position yourself on the roof of the storehouse on the other side of the wide road that runs between each store. Watching your spirit move to the first stone, it bobs up and down for a few seconds, and the face of the stone goes ablaze with a blue flame similar to the one surrounding the spirit. Cursed flames have the unique property of being able to catch anything alight, even the very air, and not spread.

Waiting a minute for the curse to take full effect, you lob an extra large fireball and hope for the best. You brace for the possible collapse of the whole building as the ball connects, exploding in flames on contact. The building remains standing. Allowing another minute to pass, you then move to inspect the damage. The ironwood roof didn’t catch fire, it being highly resistant to heat, and the stones are blackened in ash. Allowing your spirit to wonder, it now ignores the location of where the focus should be. It worked, the focus dispelled.

You make quick work of the other three, repeating the process of standing back, singing the stone, and blasting away each focus. With the removal of the final one, you feel as if an invisible weight was lifted from the air, the ward now shattered.

You now stand at the storehouse doors, the large ironwoods looming over you. You place your hands on the doors, your reflexes at the ready. You should be able to jump back if the place collapses. The door slowly creaks open.

A brilliant white light blinds you.
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[X] By the gods…

It’s full of stars! Hundreds of them!

Well, not actual stars, but crystals. Pallets and crates are stacked to the ceiling, all of them filled with perfectly spherical crystals about as large as your head. The sight of them all is nearly enough to blind you, being only use to the twilight of the Underworld. Thankfully, your eyes quickly adjust as you take the view in. The stacks are segregated into the four corners, with plenty of room between them, forming a large cross of space.

Breathless, you take a few steps forward as a few thoughts run through your mind. Why was this kept secure from the rest of the Underworld? Why were they stored here? Where did they come from? Where they somehow mined from the giant crystal that was once above the city? Why go through all the trouble of even destroying them if someone so much as stepped in here…

In the very center of the store, something catches your eye. A lone pedestal stands there, draped over with a simple thick cloth. Something sits atop the small pedestal, underneath the cloth. Seems like three boxes of some sort. You have the damnedest feeling you shouldn’t look, but you find yourself drawn towards it. It seems like a bad idea, but you’ve made it this far on bad ideas, so might as well go all the way.

[ ] Pull off the cloth.
[ ] Just find what you came for and get out.
[ ] Leave now. The place hasn’t gone up yet, and it doesn’t seem like there’s anything useful here otherwise.
[ ] Write in.
Sorry for such a small post. I wanted a bit more time to think over a few things for the next update based on this vote, considering I now have more free time as it's the weekend. A problem about daily updates during the weekdays, I guess.
[X] Pull off the cloth.

Not sure if we should be messing with the Boxes of Orden without the true copy of the Book of Counted Shadow. Can't hurt to have a little peek though.
>>12346
He said, lifting the lid of the Ark of the Covenant.

[X] Just find what you came for and get out.
>>12347

Yeah, let's not risk it.

[X] Just find what you came for and get out.
[X] Pull off the cloth.
[X] Pull off the cloth.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Calling it for [X] Pull off the cloth. As usual, update before my midnight (5am this site).
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[X] Pull off the cloth.

Hoping for the best and expecting the worst, you quickly yank the sheet from the pedestal.

Three fairies look upon you in separate cages, each varying in emotion.

Fairies? What in the earth are fairies doing here? How long could they possibly have been sitting here, caged this whole time?

Fairies, the purest constructs of magic, should normally only be found on the surface. They are formed out of the most basic energies of the land and nature, all of which are plentiful on the surface. Here in the Underworld, such energies are nearly nonexistent, as almost everything here isn’t formed out of the more “natural” energies, but rather from the energies of the subterranean world and the dead. In fact, it would be almost detrimental for a fairy to venture this far underground, as those very same energies would conflict with its own, possibly destroying it.

Again you ask yourself, how are they here now?

With the answers not coming to you, you resign yourself to looking them over. You’ve never seen a fairy up close, mostly only observing a few on the surface in your travels. All of them stand comfortably within their cages, watching you carefully. About as large as two of your hands, they almost resemble miniature human females, save for their intricate wings.

The cages are arranged in a row. In the left cage inhabits a fairy with hair that reminds you of your friend, with hair black as the night down to her waist. She wears a simple sky blue dress to her knees, the ends frilled black and elaborate. Her single set of wings appear almost as a butterfly’s, a creature you’ve seen on the surface. Rounded and transparent, they flutter wildly, expressing the fey’s excitement in seeing someone new after an eternity caged. She shows intense curiosity in your presence as she practically hovers in place, her hands holding the bars for support.

The right one is also quite expressive, though it doesn’t seem to be in the most positive way. She is a fiery redhead, her curly hair touching her shoulders, though in a mess. It seems as if she once wore a dress similar to that of the first fairy’s, you assume black with white frills, but it now lies in tatters around her body and scattered in pieces around her cage. Her dual set of wings, once thought of as beautiful, now appear lopsided and awkward. Her left wing is perfectly intact, but her right one is torn with sizeable pieces ripped off and missing. She must have managed to remove her left wings entirely, with them quickly regenerating, good as new. You imagine that if not for the recovering properties of Youkai, the little thing would possibly be covered in scratches and blood. She reaches out to you, fingers clawed, with the eyes of lunacy, her simple mind lost to the weathering of time in solitude.

The last and central fey sits within her cage and, though facing towards you, does not look up at you. She sits on her knees, her eyes to the floor and her long fair gray hair falling freely from atop her head. Past her shorter hair on her forehead, you can see her nearly lifeless amethyst eyes staring at nothing in particular. Her dress is of a faded violet, with long sleeves and white frills. Her twin sets of simple pointed wings lie defeated as they droop to the ground, their sparkle now dimmed. As she sits defeated, you can’t help but feel pity for such a sad life.

You can’t help but wonder their purpose in life. Who would go to such lengths as to keep three fairies caged within a sealed storehouse deep beneath the bowls of the earth itself, while surrounded by these mysterious crystals?

Speaking of the crystals, you wonder over to a stack in one corner to take a closer look at some. They are a little smaller than watermelons, and perfectly spherical, being smooth to the touch. Separately, they emit a soft red hue that is calming to your eyes, and together, they easily completely light up the store, leaving no darkness within. They emit a slight warmth, noticeable as you place your hands over one. You couldn’t help but notice that the one’s you approached seemed to become ever so slightly brighter than their neighbors. Looking around, you see that indeed, some areas have brighter crystals than others. The whole of the stacks located at the foremost section of the store are exceptionally brighter than those located in the back.

You find this… unnerving, however you know not why.

Moving back to the fairies, you wonder what to do with them all. Maybe they can speak. None of them has said a word yet, but they might just be shy. You could easily set them free with your power, but find that you may want to be selective about which ones if you do. And of the crystals, maybe taking one back to the mansion will liven the place up. There are very few consistent light sources in the entire Underworld otherwise, so you’re sure She would be grateful for them. Finally, you turn your mind back to the whole reason you came here; is there even a fire trap in here to begin with? As far as you can tell, you’ve been wondering in here for awhile, and you still have all your hair. It’s would be odd for the creators of this place to be inconsistent in their enchantments. Mages love their consistency as it makes their lives easier, so why would one house be rigged, while this one still remains standing?

As you think on all this, your spirit sits guarding the doorway while awaiting your command.

(Vote for as much as you want and in order of precedence)
[ ] Speak with the fairies.
-[ ] The lively black head.
-[ ] The insane red head.
-[ ] The silent gray head.
[ ] Release the fairies.
-[ ] The lively black head.
-[ ] The insane red head.
-[ ] The silent gray head.
[ ] Take a crystal back with you when you leave.
[ ] Look around for…
-[ ] Those traps. They have to be here somewhere.
-[ ] Anything else in general. Maybe there’s more to this place than it seems.
[ ] Order your spirit to [specify specific move or action].
[ ] Leave.
[ ] Write in.
Third time's the charm apparently. So much for updating before midnight, but I don't really count it as an actual failure. Really, as long as I put one up before each waking period, I'm happy, and I hope you all can accept that. I just set the limitation or else I'd probably put this whole thing off until five in the morning.

On the bright side, I finally remembered how to do the format tags.
>>12358
Just one thing that i've noticed.. but you seem to use the word "wondering" a lot, and it doesn't make sense to me.

>gods know where she’s wondered off to.
>For now, you wonder over to the darker alleys
>forced to slowly wonder mindlessly as an eternity passes around them.
>Your mind wonders…
>Allowing your spirit to wonder,

Wouldn't in all these situations it be correct to use wander instead? Especially considering you use wonder a few times for what it actually means.

>and was wondering about the content and quality,
>You sometimes wonder how the human race has lasted as long as it has
>She expresses wonder as a thought crosses her mind.
>You can’t help but wonder their purpose in life

So.. is this just a mistake? I can't stop noticing it.

Having at last gotten that off my chest,
[X] Speak with the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
-[X] The silent gray head.
[X] Release the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
[X] Look around for…
-[X] Those traps. They have to be here somewhere.
[X] Take a crystal back with you when you leave.
[X] Leave.
>>12360
Oh, in the lines with freeing the black fairy,
[X] If the gray head shows personality and stability, free her too.

Should've included that.
>>12360
It seems as if my speed editor has failed me yet again. Thanks for pointing that out, I did mean 'wander' over 'wonder'. Didn't think about that much over having to quickly type out everything else.
[X] Speak with the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
-[X] The silent gray head.
-[X] The insane red head.
[X] Release the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
-[X] If the gray head shows personality and stability, free her too.
[X] Look around for…
-[X] Those traps. They have to be here somewhere.
[X] Take a crystal back with you when you leave.
[x] Speak with the fairies.
-[x] The lively black head.
-[x] The insane red head.
-[x] The silent gray head.
[x] Release the fairies.
-[x] The lively black head.
-[x] The insane red head.
-[x] The silent gray head.
[x] Take a crystal back with you when you leave.
[x] Look around for…
-[x] Those traps. They have to be here somewhere.
-[x] Anything else in general. Maybe there’s more to this place than it seems.

Personally, I don't like the thought of leaving any of the fairies imprisoned. Maybe the crazy one will improve with a little bit of freedom.
[X] Speak with the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
-[X] The silent gray head.
-[X] The insane red head.
[X] Release the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
-[X] If the gray head shows personality and stability, free her too.
[X] Look around for…
-[X] Those traps. They have to be here somewhere.
[X] Take a crystal back with you when you leave.
>>12364
Well, being the one who made that first vote, my thought process goes that while her circumstances are indeed sad, it's like freeing a crazy dog and hoping it will be grateful rather than bite you.

I'm not against talking to it, seeing if there's anything there, but i'm too cynical to expect much.
Calling it for
[X] Speak with the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
-[X] The insane red head.
-[X] The silent gray head.
[X] Release the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
-[X] If the gray head shows personality and stability, free her too.
[X] Look around for…
-[X] Those traps. They have to be here somewhere.
[X] Take a crystal back with you when you leave.

Update should be before 10:30pm EST, as this is one of those weekends where I have to do something around midnight, but at worst it'll be up before 1am.
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[X] Speak with the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
-[X] The insane red head.
-[X] The silent gray head.
[X] Release the fairies.
-[X] The lively black head.
-[X] If the gray head shows personality and stability, free her too.
[X] Look around for…
-[X] Those traps. They have to be here somewhere.
[X] Take a crystal back with you when you leave.

Careful to not make any sudden movements, you lean on to the pedestal, arms crossed on its surface, getting comfortable. You want to leave as much of a good impression on them as much as possible. You just hope they can talk at all.

“Hey there. Can you all speak?” you ask, hopefully establishing communication with them.

“Haaaah-wooooh….” The black haired one makes some sounds with her mouth in what must be an attempt to speak for the first time in years. “Hi… Who aher… are yooo… you?” she slowly asks, her voice eventually coming back to her.

You’re pretty sure the red head is growling at you, while you think you saw the gray haired one’s head slightly tilt up towards you.

“I’m Rin, a Kasha!” you exclaim. You’re pretty proud of who you are, and usually don’t get to meet many new people, so you’re always happy to talk to someone new, even fairies. Right now though, it doesn’t seem like any of them are in the mood to idly chat, so you get right to it. “What are you three doing here?”

“Um, I duno. Kinda sitting around, I guess,” says the black haired one. With her voice recovered, you find it has quite a high pitch to it.

While her response leaves much to be desired, it only reminds you of the simplicity of fairies. In their small size, demeanor, and fast regenerative abilities, they live extremely carefree lives. You’ve heard that while they shy away from settlements, they constantly play tricks on humans and Youkai alike in the forests, damning the consequences. They always just heal right back up, or are sent back to nature to be reborn another time. With such relaxed lifestyles and short life expectancies they would have no reason or possibility of achieving higher thought processes more advanced than ‘look, a shiny thing, what is it’. You begin to doubt that you will get anything out of this conversation, but are sure that they wouldn’t mind being rid of those cages. You only hope that they can survive and sustain themselves underground if you do release them.

“Well that’s cool I guess, but don’t you think it would be better to be able to get out of your… room?” They, or at least the black haired one, probably don’t see the cage as such, but instead as their place of residence, in the most positive sense.

“Ohhh~ Ya! I’d give you a hug~ A great big one!” Quite enthusiastic, that one. Nothing like the other two. The red head still eyes you with hostility, and the gray one is still slumped ov-

No, wait. She looks directly at you now, her mourning eyes huge, with an expression of absolute fear enveloping her entire being. She slowly begins moving her head, first to the left, then the right, back and forth, even silently mouthing a word. No…


“No?” you ask in surprise. She’s probably just afraid of the wider unknown world, content within her cell. Understandable, as it may actually mean the end of her. If any of them were to die here, their base energies may be suppressed by the magic of the Underworld, denying their reformation back into existence.

Still on her knees, she falls back onto her hands and begins frantically shuffling backwards into the cage’s rear wall, almost pleading for you to not release her. Her companions seem more than delighted at the prospect, though probably for varying reasons.

“It’ll be ok. Hell, I could watch over you for a while if you’re ok with that,” you reassure her. She may be a fairy, but no being should ever live a life in complete fear of the world. Hearing your words, her head motions cease, yet she still holds her ground in the back of the cage.

“Ok, lay flat on the floor. I’m going to blow the lid off this thing,” you instruct them while readying the smallest fireball you can maintain. The black haired one eagerly does so, while the center one is hesitant. After a few seconds, she slowly lowers herself to the center of the cage’s floor. The red head is completely defiant against your commands, her growls now obviously apparent. You didn’t plan for her release anyway; you don’t think the two of you would get along very well.

With fireball in hand, you slam your palm into the top of the black haired fey’s cage. Your hand directs the full force of the explosion into the top, blasting a rough hole straight through it. Almost instantly, the little fairy springs free of her confinement with wings abuzz.

“Wheeee~” she yells, fluttering circles around the pedestal. “Oh, did you want your hug?”

“Well… sure, why not,” you answer with open arms.

“Yay! Hey guys, let’s all give her a really big hug!” she yells towards the… doors?

Turning around, you only see your spirit at the doorway, resolutely at his post. Then you hear the buzzing. You slowly look up and see, high at the peak of the foremost rafters, fairies. Hundreds of them, all with empty eyes and void of expression. They slowly begin to descend upon you.

“What the hell?” you let out as you feel something tugging on the bottom of your long hair.

“Hug~ So soft!” she exclaims as she tightly takes hold of your hair.

“Mmmmm, good night kitty~” she hums with delight as she detonates.
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[X] Get up.

What in the Blazing Hells was that for? You lay flat on your face in the aftermath of the burst. Thankfully it was small enough to only singe your back and clothing. Sitting up, you find yourself already quickly healing, though your back still aches. Looking back at where you were once standing, you see only the sparkle of magical essence falling to the ground, the fairy completely obliterated. In her wake, pieces of you hair litter the floor while the pedestal rests lying on the ground, it and its contents toppled from the force.

Quick assessment over, you turn to more pressing matters. You believe you have found the source of the flames and subsequent collapse of storehouses past, contained within these creatures set to suicidally eliminate any intruders. You are unsure whether the ensuing building’s destruction is intentional or not, as its contents seem valuable enough to warrant guarding to begin with, but the thought is fleeting as you recover to your feet. One simple fairy knocked you off your feet, leaving you less-than-unscathed, but an amount this size… No more thinking, time to move.

The hoard has moved to the ground, the orbs around them now flaring brightly. They now make their way to you, the slow wall of doom wanting to enclose you. You wonder if your spirit could be of use as so far the fairies have otherwise ignored him.

“Hey spooky! Get over here!” you call out, ordering your spirit to your side. Hmmm, might be best to not agitate the fairies along the way. “And don’t run into the fai-“ Too late. Speedily making its way to you, it impassively tackles any fey in its path with such force as to nearly instantly dissolve them back to essence. You twitch at the expected result, but find yourself now staring face to face with your spirit, both of you still intact. Look at that; it seems they only go off if they make contact with living beings or such. It explains why none of the caged fairies didn’t immediately go off either.

“In that case, take them all out!” you tell your spirit as it aggressively turns to the fairies. It charges straight through the mass, back and forth, punching small holes into the wall. With the fey still advancing, however, you find you now have to start giving up ground and begin backing up. You don’t know if it’ll be enough to just knock them around; the force isn’t enough to be rid of many of them rapidly, and any removed are quickly replaced by others, keeping you barred from freedom.

You’re not getting desperate, but there is a sense of urgency as time and space dwindles. Instinctively, a fireball forms in your palm that you instantly dismiss. Sure, your spirit might not set them off, but what about another explosion? No, can’t risk it, at least not yet.

Still sliding backwards, you come to a stop as your foot hits something. Looking down, you find the pedestal and it's previous occupants on the ground. Oh right, you forgot about those two for a minute. Well no worries, those cages should have held through the blast. Still, you curiously glance over them both just to make sure. The red head is still in her cell, now feistier than ever, growling and snarling at you while actively trying to force herself between the bars. The gray head’s enclosure… had its bars heavily misshapen enough that anything trapped in it could probably climb out…

Well damn.

“Spook! To me!” you cry out. You still have plenty of room to back into while the mass advances, but you don’t want to be caught by surprise by a stray volatile fey. But where is she? You want to be rid of her before as quickly as possible and plan to send your spirit at her when you find her.

Where to hide… There! In plain sight? You see her small form hovering down the left walkway that separated the forward pallets from the rear ones, still with that perpetual look of sadness on her face. She notices you staring at her, and startles. You take a step at her and are about to be rid of her before you notice something; she’s moving away from you, mouthing something.

Ah… You suppose she did try to warn you in her own way, so maybe… You really don’t want to risk it, but time’s ticking and the other fairies still progress. Maybe she really is the only sane one around here, maybe enough to get some answers, and if not… well, you’ll deal with that if it comes to it.

Moving swiftly, you rush to within a few feet of her. She is now on the ground, backed between the corner of the wall and a large stack of pallets. You crouch and approach carefully, weary of her possible charge into you. Pure horror wells within her piercing eyes and quivering body as she shakes her head and mouths her words. I’m sorry…

“Hey, relax, I won’t bite as long as you don’t either,” you say, inching a little closer. Ceasing her mouthing, she breaks eye contact with you for but a second to consider your words, then returns back to you still trembling. It’s a start.

“Um, I know you tried to warn me back there and all, and I might have not understood it too well, but do you think you could help me some more?” you ask, moving slightly closer still. The buzz of approaching wings constantly reminds you of the urgency of the situation. Focusing back on the fey, you see her now staring at the floor. Damn, guess that’s the extent of her mental capabilities. You didn’t expect much from this, but you still find yourself slightly disappointed at the loss of the prospect of a possible ally.

In your moment of introspection, she stirs again, snapping your attention back to her once more. You see her, but something has changed. Her demeanor is different. Her hands are still on the walls behind her, yet she stands taller, her trembling ceased, and her eyes clear of any trace of all previous terrors. She nods.

The thought crosses your mind: There’s something special about this one, something more to her, something that made her unlike the others. In confliction, however, is still the idea of betrayal, of her taking you out with your back turned. It somewhat happened already, and you’d rather not repeat the past, but what if… what if what if what if ENOUGH!

Shaking your head to clear your active mind, you speak again. “Oh, great, um, yeah, know of a quick way out of here that doesn’t involve me trying to blow holes through the walls?” You shuffle forward in your excitement at the possible aid.

She jumps at your advance, places both of her hands up, and motions you to move back from her. She then points at herself and gestures her hands in a wide arch. Oh, so she’s actively aware of her own dilemma and is warning you of it. For a fairy to realize and remember that such a thing has happened to them after all this time… Though the simple creatures of the surface continue to amaze you, you find that you might want to focus on the present, so as to be able to sate your curiosity when you’re not in danger.

Now back to the fairy, she points upwards, towards the rafters. Yeah, ok. Then towards the front, down on the ground, and out the door. Oh right, though the fairies were in the rafters to begin with, now they’re all near the floor, none of them straying. Now that they’ve moved back this way a bit, you should be able to climb up there with your cat’s grace, run across right over them, jump down, and run out the door. Sounds easy enough. Sometimes you just need someone else to remind you of the simplest things.

“Wow, yeah, thanks for making me realize that. Guess I shoulda thought of that myself, but I guess I was preoccupied.” You look over the fairy one last time. She really doesn’t belong here. There must have been a reason she was locked up, unlike the others who pursue you now. The black one seemed a little too active for her own good; the red head must have been too vicious; but this one… She must have tried to resist, her mind slightly more complex than the other average fey. Or something. Again, you can think on it later, but for now…

“Hey, I know you might have… issues, but you really don’t have to stay here. Wanna come with me? See the world of the underground? You might appreciate it,” you ask. The least you could do is safeguard her in this hell hole.

She looks at you for a second, a small smile developing over her lips, then drops her head, eyes closed, head slowly shaking. No…

“Ok then. Guess I’m gone then. Thanks for the help!” you say before standing to prepare shifting into cat form. Looking back for the first time since your little discussion, you see the fairies have just cleared the forward stacks and are now beginning to cross over the space of separation. You’ll need to move quickly. Actually, you might as well get your spirit to continue to wreak havoc upon them, especially the ones that are closest to the rafters.

“Ok spook, go at them again, from the top,” you command. Nothing happens. “Hey, spook? Oh… crap.” Glancing over your shoulder, you see your spirit still over by the pedestal now shaking violently. You can see the conflict within its empty eyes, as it attempts to break your control.

It succeeds. Spirits usually don’t take kindly to being commanded around, so in its resentment, it charges you. No, not you, its angle is off. It’s rushing… the fairy!? Knowing it can’t catch you, it has chosen a similarly intelligent, yet more helpless, target.

No… You promised safeguard outside of these walls, and why should it only be limited to that? You have to save her, but you can’t touch her. What to do?!?

Though your mind panics, your reflexes react, bounding you towards the fey, ready to be in her defense. Before you can stop yourself, you make contact with her just as the spirit does the same.

There is no fiery explosion, only the invisible force of one that sends you reeling into the opposing wall. The world goes black.

[ ] Please let her be ok…
[ ] Please let Her be ok…
(Vote carefully. There is a difference.)
Yes, according to the time stamp, I'm quite late, but I've already addressed that. I did originally have the update up earlier, but just now decided to change the voting choices slightly in a moment of inspiration. Sorry if this inconveniences any one reading at or before this time.
[X] Please let her be ok…

I'm guessing the other option is not the fairy.
[X] Please let Her be ok…

At first I thought I wouldn't be voting in this one, I did see the first version of the post. But with this second version of the vote, I feel like I've determined what the results will be, and while I would like to see more fairy at the moment..
[X] Please let her be ok… 
[x] Please let her be ok…

Hm. Dunno.
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[X] Please let her be ok…

Gahhh… You would have liked to go the whole day without slamming into a wall, but you figure it was inevitable. At least you weren’t burnt to ashes or buried under the roof. Carefully opening your eyes, you see the little pips of darkness scattered across your vision that quickly fade in and out of existence as you recover. Wow, it’s really bright in here. Your body aches once more, but you recover with the same speed as last time.

Standing, you assess that you are otherwise unscathed and then see to it that your surroundings are the same. Good, the place is still intact and nothing’s on fire. The gigantic mass of fairies didn’t seem to have faired as well. A noticeably large quantity of them, especially those closest to the shockwave, apparently didn’t make it. It appears that most of the losses were due to being struck against the walls and pallets at high velocities, their small builds easily being thrown around and their iridescent essence gathering onto the floor. The hundred or so that survived still remain stunned and scattered over the floor, pallets, and even rafters.

You could easily take your leave right now, but you have one final order of business here.

You have to go to her. Even if she’s just dust now, your rogue spirit may still linger near, and if anything, you’ll be the one to take care of it right now, to rid it of this world. You hate the idea of life wasted by other’s actions. A being should be able to take their own risks in life. If it gets them killed, so be it, but it should be on the being’s own terms in life, with them knowing that what they’re doing will get them hurt. No one’s life should be cut short by unfortunate accidents, including random violence. No one, especially those who have the ability to appreciate and enjoy life. Like that little fairy.

That’s why your going to grab that spirit by its wispy tail and bury it so deep in the earth, no one will ever remember it. Yeah, you know this is just how vengeful spirits are, but… it would just make you feel better about the whole thing, if you’re being honest to yourself. Vengeance really is just one large vicious cycle, as they say.

From here, you can see the unmistakable glow of the spirit’s aura, but its color is off. It’s almost monochromatic. Carefully moving closer as to not make any sudden moves, you now see it for what it is.

Lying on the ground is a fairy with hair as white as what you’ve heard of as snow and an alluring aura as bright as a spirit’s flame. She almost resembles… no, it IS her, and now she stirs. The little fairy sits up with a look of confusion on her face. Is it really her, or has she been possessed, her body now under the control of the spirit? You have to be careful; you’ve witnessed first hand at what may happen to a possessed Youkai’s body. After the being of the Youkai was shattered, the spirit drew power from the newly acquired body, deformed it, and managed to level a whole block of the city before being taken down by a strong armed Oni annoyed from being woken.

Sometimes you wonder what possesses you to deal with these spirits.

You watch cautiously as she stands. She appears exactly the same as she once was, save for her white hair and a peculiar glowing circlet of light floating above her hair that follows her head motions precisely. Now holding a look of worry, she sweeps her gaze across the room, eventually spotting you. She seems overjoyed and proceeds to fly over towards you.

Instinctively, you summon a fireball in your hand and bare your teeth at her. You immediately regret the action as she stops short a few feet of you, obvious fear and confusion taking hold. You close your mouth and glance off to the side, disappointed at yourself for doing such a thing, though you keep hold of the ball.

Well damn, what’s there to do with her? The spirit had an obvious effect on her, but to what extent? At best, she’s still in complete control of herself, but the spirit could revoke that control at any time. At worst, the spirit is still in the process of assuming control of the body, and she’s basically a flying shell of a body… You don’t want to think about it, but you seriously consider putting her out of her possible misery. It would probably be best in the long run…

[ ] Do it. She’s suffered enough.
[ ] Don’t. This is just the way of the spirits anyway, and you’ve got a mansion to help fix.
[ ] Talk to her. However, you won’t know if she’s talking, or it is talking.
[ ] Actually, if she’s possessed by the spirit, then maybe you could link with her and see if she’s there? Normally you’re no mind reader, but this is different. However, if the spirit has taken control, it’ll be ready for your intrusion more so than last time.
[x] Actually, if she’s possessed by the spirit, then maybe you could link with her and see if she’s there? Normally you’re no mind reader, but this is different. However, if the spirit has taken control, it’ll be ready for your intrusion more so than last time.

We could at least attempt communication.
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[X] Actually, if she’s possessed by the spirit, then maybe you could link with her and see if she’s there?

You quickly speculate. If she’s been affected, then shouldn’t you be able to make a link? If it’s not even her, though, what could happen to you? You’ve faced magical recoil against a spirit before, and if not for your friend being by your side, your mind might have been shattered. The ordeal still left you with a nasty headache for a week.

Yeah, you’re certain she’s stronger than that. Man, you’re really putting up with a lot just for a small fairy. Oh well, you’re pretty sure you haven’t had your daily allotment of risks yet anyway, dismiss the fire, and link.

Your vision shifts.

Whoa, this is different. You’re normally use to seeing the immoralities of mankind, not images of this… of a life filled with happiness. Deep within unnamed woods, a small dance of five fairies play. Living in a small hut at the base of a large tree, their lives are simple; they have fun with other fairies, cause mischief among the humans, take dives into ponds, tango with ferocious Youkai, and even have little wars amongst themselves, all in jest. In general, they’re living the lives of fairies.

Sometimes one of them doesn’t come back at the end of the day. That’s ok; that’s normal. Living life on the edge isn’t without its losses. These being fairies however, they all return eventually, the magic of the land making it so. Even if they don’t return immediately, the others continue on thusly, completely carefree. All, except for one.

A small gray haired fairy who doesn’t speak much would end her day in bed with a hint of sadness going through her. Unexpected thoughts would enter her mind. I really hope they are ok. What if they don’t come back? What if they’re lost, or hurt, or stuck, or captured, or living inside some monster, or…

And every day, her friends would return, and her worry would vanish. Except it wouldn’t, as it only grew inside of her, without her knowing. Every fairy is born as a simple aspect of nature; fire, ice, flowers, and trees, among other things. This little gray one was a little special though. She was born without an aspect. She was once shunned by other fey who thought her strange, and only recently found a dance who cared not for that. She was happy.

One day, while she practiced an otherwise odd hobby of her called sewing, none of them came back. She nearly panicked. What if she was to be alone forever? No, something happened and she would be the one to save them. At first, she was hesitant, but quickly overcame it and went out into the world to find her friends.

After searching all night, she found them stuck inside what looked to be complex machines. Oh no. The others might not have known or figured out these contraption’s purposes, but she knew. She pieced everything together and knew of these things as fairy traps. It would be impossible for her to save her friends. Her friends saw her, called to her, but she shied away. Tears flooded her eyes as she knew that they were doomed to whatever destinies the humans decided for them. No, she couldn’t bring herself to live knowing that her friends could possibly be suffering, so she willingly joined them.

A man came. His large blue rode-like clothing, white hair, and small glasses stood out to define him. He transported the fey and threw their holding cages into a dark building filled with junk. There they stayed, the few that could crying out into the night each day for weeks until the man’s return. It must have been weeks, but now this man comes back, and now separates three of the fairies from the other two; the gray head along with her black haired and red haired friends were to never see their other two companions again.

They were taken into a building filled with shelves and assorted items, and handed over to some other hooded man. His posture and actions were all wrong though. This creature was completely inhuman, and his cart would only confirm this to the gray haired one. It was a cart of bone and flesh, as if a living monstrosity in its own right. No, this isn’t right, this shouldn’t be happening to us! These were the last thoughts of the fairy as she fainted.

‘And that’s my story, I suppose,’ came a voice, small and light, as practically a whisper. Where the… Oh. Just as numerous other connections you’ve made before, you see an image of her and her inner world, but she noticed you first. She stands in the center of a small field in the middle of a forest, similar to the visions of her forest home.

‘Yes, this was once my life. I cherish my past deeply, but I know I will never see it again as this is now my life.’ She stands and a bright blue light flares. In clearing, you see the land of her mind for what it truly is; the same forest, now dark and desolate. All plant life has been wiped away while husks of trees now only hold small blue flames within their branches. No way, is this how she sees herself, how she sees where her life is heading?

‘Sadly, no, for this is what has already come to be. I had already accepted my fate, to be lost and sealed away from the rest of the world for eternity. I know… I know I’m different from the others, that I have beliefs, hobbies, wants, dreams, that I can think for myself! At first I was overjoyed, that I had a gift that rarely any other fairy had been given, if any before me at all. I could learn.

‘In time, it grew to be as much a gift as it was a curse, however. I learned that while I could experience and appreciate the more advanced complexities of life, I could not share these joys with any other creature or being. Humans have never viewed us fairies as more than mere pests, and other fairies… they lacked the ability to even understand me. Even if they were my friends, they still couldn’t understand or comprehend my sayings or delights. Even if I was with them to the very end, I always held a sense of intellectual loneliness, knowing that no other being would be able to see me for who I really was.

‘All I’ve ever wanted in life was someone who could understand me. We didn’t have to be friends, simply acquaintances; we would never have to see eye to eye. I just simply wanted someone who could tolerate a little creature in their ear, talking away about every aspect of life they enjoyed; talking of experiences and discoveries they would otherwise never be able to comprehend!

‘Interestingly, I’ve always feared death. I know us fey are constantly sent back to nature due to various consequences, only to return near instantaneously. I quickly realize that, in our constant rebirth, we seem to forfeit a bit of ourselves. I saw it in my friends. When they returned ‘later’ than expected, they were always a bit forgetful of themselves, as if they had forgotten what it was like to live in our home or such. I made a startling connection: what if I ever died? Would I lose myself entirely? Would my knowledge be lost, never to be regained if I lost the ability of rational thought entirely?

‘I grew fearful of the world at that point. I rarely left my home, only leaving to gather supplies to help humor what was seen as strange interests. In fact, it wasn’t until that fateful day that I had been so far removed from my home than I had been in years. And look were that got me…

‘I’ve lost my home, was separated from half my friends, watched in horror as one of the two friends I was still physically close to go insane over the years as her simple mind deteriorated, and recently witnessed my other friend who also became far-gone to the other extreme of living in her own little world blow herself up… Really, what is left for me in life? What is left for but a simple fairy with the most basic function of comprehension? Why am I even here to begin with? How am I here now?

‘We both know that that shock should have ripped me apart, that I should be dust in the wind. But that spirit… it tried to ‘take’ me before my essence was torn asunder. And I believe it succeeded, if only partially… I awoke before you did, and tried to remove myself from this world, but to no avail. I only found myself awaked on the ground, then saw you as you came to…

‘Tell me, what does the future hold for me? What do I do now? Live a life of solitude? Should I just trap myself within these walls for an eternity longer? Or should I just wander the land until the death of magic itself? In all my forsaken power, this is something I just can’t know, that I don’t want to know, that I must know…’

[ ] Write in.
Hello again. This time I've shifted the mood and current subject of the story yet again.

In my self critique I've noticed I may be jumping from one thing to another quite quickly, such as from action to infodumping to questions about life itself in about two posts.

Please answer this write in however you like, but just as with any other vote, I do have a default response if no one responds.

Again, thanks for reading my quick and rough story. If anyone could tell me how they feel about how the story is going, I would appreciate it.

As an aside, I'll remember to format correctly the first time eventually.
>>12411
Wow, uhm, yes. Damn. That is some mood whiplash. Kind of came out of the blue.

Other than that, I never know what to say to people like this. Actually, no, wait. I know exactly what to say, i've just never said it.

[X]"There's no real meaning to it. Just a fairy who got lucky and unlucky, over and over. If eventually you can come to terms with what's happened, you can start living for yourself now. Be a bit selfish, and do what you want. Find some people who would appreciate you, and do right by them. That's about as much meaning as anyone's life has."
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[X] Write in.

You’re speechless. Every time you had ever heard of or had seen a fairy, you always thought they were the most fortunate creatures alive. No enemies, no obligations, no thoughts, no worries. Truly, you thought the life of a fairy was a life of natural perfection. Now? You see that even the simplest of creatures can live out their lives in complete comprehended misery. It’s bad enough to have a bad life; it’s worse to realize and understand that fact.

Still, as horrible as it may have been for her, the past is still the past. She may have been dealt a bad hand, but now’s her chance for a brighter future. In fact, you’re going to see to it that she actually has a future.

‘Little one, let me say that fate is a cruel mistress. I’ve had my share of misfortunes. While I know you may see your life as an enduring hell due to unfortunate events of your past, I can say that it’s all just based on luck. You could have lived a life of complete bliss and still have the same results befall you in the end.

‘You may have seen your events as omens of what is to come, but in reality, there was no deeper meaning behind any of it. You were just… unlucky, for lack of better word. You were given a gift that none of your kind can comprehend, and with it, are able to see the wickedness of the world. You saw how your friends were treated, knew that they would suffer, and couldn’t stand the thought of having your freedom while they slaved away. You knew the consequences of your actions and in your selflessness, you joined them in attempt to comfort them in what could have possibly been their last moments to see the natural world.

‘Now here you are, wondering how to go on with your life, wanting to repent for past events you never caused to begin with. But you have to understand, none of if was your fault. You couldn’t have prevented what happened. If you can bring yourself to come to terms with your past, it is then that you will be able to live for your future.

‘Be a bit selfish, and do what you want. Find some people who would appreciate you, and do right by them. That's about as much meaning as anyone's life has. You did right by your friends in the past. They may not have understood you, but they didn’t care; they loved you for who you were, and there was nothing more to it than that.

‘Now if you’re willing to accept what has happened with your life, I will personally see to it that you have a brighter future; that no other hardships befall you and that you see what life still has to offer you, at least here underground.

‘With that said, my previous offer still stands: Wanna come with? I know you might not have the highest opinion of this place, but maybe you just need a guide, both in body and in mind. Besides, this place kinda seems like a dump, so… let’s get out of here.’

Your mental speech complete, you now focus back to the image of the fairy after being lost in your own words. Tears flow freely from her eyes. A large smile blossoms as she runs towards ‘you’. Temporarily shifting vision back to reality, you see her as she runs into you with arms spread, grappling you into the largest hug she can muster. You openly reciprocate in turn.

Finally, after the little fey willingly released herself from your hold, you both turn to finally leave this tomb of sorrow behind, your new companion plopped atop your head.

Well, not before grabbing one of these curious orbs. Got to come out of this with something in hand.
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[X] Get the hell out of here.

Finally, after what has felt like days being stuck in the storehouse, you get your leave. You might not have what you were looking for in the first place, but you have still gained a valuable ally and an interesting trinket. Yep, it wasn’t all horrible. Sure you were almost obliterated, but that’s behind you know. Well, only thing left to do is reseal the doors so none of the fairies can escape.

‘It’s sad to know others of my kind might never know peace in their state of being, so I guess this is for the best,’ your little fey states through the link. Right, you never terminated it. Hmm, there’s an interesting experiment; do you really have to close the link if your target shows no malice towards you? That really the only reason you do to begin with, as it would be detrimental to your mental health to keep it open with an angry spirit. If nothing else, you find it kind of cool to have a little secret link with your new friend.

‘Yeah, I know it’s hard for you to watch me do this, but it really is for the betterment of the Underworld,’ you answer. Again, you’re both not actually talking; it’s more like you’re both conveying each other’s feelings to each other and you both know the meaning and intent behind the words. Really, you imagine it as the purest form of communication, as it’s nearly impossible for misunderstandings. It must be even better, to the point of actual perfection, for two actual mind readers to communicate with each other. The idea gives you shivers of excitement.

Now if only the world were also as accepting of the idea too.

Well enough of that train of thought. It’s time to close these doors. Still inside the store, you slide both of the massive doors to the middle, and step outside so as to throw a large wooden block across its front. You’ll then physically seal the doors together with a few fireballs, as ironwood is incredibly difficult to catch fire, but still ‘bonds’ together under high enough temperatures.

Well, that would be the idea if not for the sight of the massive cloud of blue blazed vengeful spirits right outside the doorway. You should have seen this coming. Of course the opening of a magically warded building with supplies inside would attract them. Well now what? If you close the doors now, you’ll just be barring their way to their own ideas of bliss, but if you let them in…

‘No, it’s ok. The others are too far gone now. Allowing these spirits to ‘release’ them from this world would be more than they could ask for. In fact, they may even become like me…’

Well, that’s a good point, you guess. Well at any rate, you’ll be sealing an obvious evil with an unfortunate evil, so the only danger comes to those foolish enough to pry open these doors once again.

You let open the doors once more, and allow the numerous spirits to flood the building. It’s probably a bad idea to just seal away your problems, but what else are you to do with the indestructible? You think no more on it, and weld the doors shut once and for all. There’s still the looming threat of another coming by and reopening them, but that’ll be a problem for another day.

With all that behind you now, it’s time to attempt to carry out your mission once again. Looking up, you find that you must have been in there for awhile. Between the light of the stored orbs and the flames of the spirits you couldn’t tell it but the crystals have now all but darkened themselves entirely. It’s no sunset, but it’s a good indication that you probably should be turning in soon, though you could entirely go on into the night if you wished.

[ ] The ironwood trees still can’t go against your most powerful fireballs, and should ignite under them. Go get some.
[ ] Search elsewhere within the Capital for supplies. Actually, you think that’s enough action in the city for one day. After this little event, you don’t want to draw anymore attention to yourself within these walls. Besides, you’re still lugging this giant orb.
[ ] You can still be discreet and call up that favor from that one guy for help.
[ ] Now sounds like a great time to head back to the mansion and…
- [ ] See how She’s holding up. Hopefully She’s not lost in there.
- [ ] Check the rooms for any useful items.
- [ ] Turn in for a while. After today, your body yearns for rest.
- [ ] Just drop off the crystal. You want to go do something else tonight. (Select another choice)
[ ] Write in.

‘… Um, sorry, but I couldn’t help but notice your interest in magical knowledge. You could always head to one of the towering spires in one of the two city corners and check around for anything helpful in there. There should be something… It was where us fey were taken to when we got here…”

[ ] Ok, maybe you could check out one of the towers. It might be just as difficult to enter, though, and you need to be careful in this darkness.
[X] The ironwood trees still can’t go against your most powerful fireballs, and should ignite under them. Go get some.
[x] Now sounds like a great time to head back to the mansion and…
- [x] See how She’s holding up. Hopefully She’s not lost in there.

That's enough for now. Though I want to check on those towers later.
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[X] Be careful, we’ve only just settled in. Who knows what’s out there.

Geez, did she really have to take off like that? Well, that’s ok, you’re pretty sure this place is safe now that you two have cleared it out. Well, you hope you both cleared it out; this place is pretty large. Not sensing anyone nearby, you assume your safety and move along. Right now, you’re just trying to get a feel for this place, like where your room is apparently suppose to be in relation to the front door.

Let’s see… She said it was down this hall, then to the left, up the second set of stairs to the right, all the way down to the third to last door on the right, then through the left door… um, wait, this is the balcony… Great, you knew this was going to happen. You’re lost in the grand mansion, with no map to help you.

Mind you, this seems like a really nice place otherwise, if a bit messy due to its previous occupants, but you really have to wonder, how are you suppose to straighten this place out? You don’t have servants, or helpers, or maids; it’s just you and that cat… It’s not that you don’t trust her, as you both have made it this far together, but sometimes you wonder… Well, you just wish she would have at the very least shown you to your quarters.

At least she gave you a little parting gift before departure. You hold in your hand a small sphere of flame, glowing with its orange light. She had given it to you as a reminder of her mission to find a source of warmth, and said that if you were to find one yourself within these halls, you could always try to make a nice bonfire with this. She also mentioned that it could be used in your defense, though you’re pretty sure you can fend for yourself. She might have led you this far, but she has yet to witness your own powers.

Well now what? You’re out here, stuck up on this balcony with nothing to do, and nowhere to knowingly go. As much as you would like to explore this place, you’d rather like to be able to be found by her when she gets back. This courtyard seems like a good a place as any to stay.

Ah, the ‘stars’ seem to be dimming for now, and everything slowly grows dark. You’ve seen these so-called vengeful spirits wander this land and give off their haunting light, but in this place, only the light from your little ball of flame illuminates the walls. It’s a sizable yard that’s about one hundred meters long and wide, forming a nearly perfect square. A large dead tree, ‘ironwood’ you believe, reaches out from the center and creates a canopy of bare branches over the yard. You imagine that the view would be spectacular if it were actually alive.

Hmm, actually you think you remember something about what was said about the plants here. Something about everything sleeping? It was a while ago and you had a lot more on your mind, so the thought doesn’t exactly perfectly come back to you. Still, your interest piqued, you drop down off the low ledge and onto the hard ground, falling to your rear. Ouch, you’d have thought the ground to be a bit softer than that. When was the last time someone took care of the land here? It could use a bit of nourishment. You walk up to the tree to size it up. You’ve seen some large trees above ground, but really, how did this thing get so large, and in these conditions? There’s little to no light, no rainfall, it’s cold, and the ground is completely devoid of nutrients. Honestly, you’re amazed there’s even a city here.

It truly makes you wonder how this ‘Underworld’ use to be for all this to once thrive.

You walk a slow lap around the tree while deep in thought, and trip over something with a ‘ting’. Ironwood trees be damned, they still aren’t made of metal. Carefully looking with fireball at your side, you see the small metal piping. You’re pretty sure that’s not natural. You follow it out of the ground, past some brush, and finally near one of the corners of the courtyard.

You find a large red hatch with “No. 2” stamped in large white block letters on it. On the wall closest to it, you see a sign: “HOBF ACCESS HATCH. DO NOT ENTER. ENTRY REQUIRES TURN WHEEL KEY.” An access hatch to what? “HOBF”? Is that some kind of basement? This seems a bit excessive for a way into the basement. Looking around this place a bit more suddenly seems more fruitful than you first thought.
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[x] The ironwood trees still can’t go against your most powerful fireballs, and should ignite under them. Go get some.

You think you’ve had enough of running around in the city; you feel like getting some fresh air and smelling the death blossoms in the wide open fields outside the city walls. That, and you think getting honest-to-gods firewood would be in your best interests. You carry the orb along with you, not wanting to go back to the mansion until you’re done for the night. It might seem like a handful to carry between the wood and orb, but you believe you have just the thing for them both.

You clamber up the large outer wall of the city, and witness the vista. The Capital walls are pointed as a citadel out towards the country side, threatening nothing in particular. Even in the low light of the crystals, your sight allows you to appreciate the view. The terrain is smooth from here to the far cavern wall, only interrupted by the occasional jagged rock formation or the fissures that have formed over the millennia. Shallow wild brush has grown to cover the entire surface of the rocky ground, with a few barren patches of stone sporadically found here and there. The brush slowly thins into nonexistence as it approaches the plateau to the surface, leaving only a wasteland of sand and grit.

‘Wow, it’s a lot more beautiful than I thought it would be,’ comments the little fey on your head. The thought strikes you as odd.

‘You can see in this darkness?’ you ask. You’re a cat, and the world is currently bathed in a bluish hue as your natural night vision strengthens your sight. What is it that a fairy sees?

‘I can see colors just fine, but use to not be able to see in the dark. Now, everything’s a shade of gray, but even seeing this view like that, I still find it amazing. It really makes me want to bring light back to the world so I can see it all for what it truly is.’

You would share her enthusiasm, but your doubts impede you as you know that this land may very well be permanently trapped in the shadows of its former self.

Dropping down off the high walls, you land on your feet and dash to the far cavern wall closest to the city. It may be a rocky desert near the entrance, but over here away from the road to the surface is a thriving forest of trees frozen in stasis. The leaves of these great ironwoods have long since fallen, yet you know they still live. Even the very grass under your feet are cold to the touch, but they will not wilt. It’s as if the plant life knows that one day, things will be better for them. One day light will shine again, and they will come back to life, blooming under the nourishing source of sustenance.

Again, your doubts surface, and again, you put them away, not wanting to be reminded of what once was.

Closer to the forest, you find what you were looking for. An artificial clearing lies open before you, with a woodcutter’s shack at the edge of the tree line. You’re amazed it’s still standing as you would have thought it would have been dismantled for its wood and supplies a long time ago. You’re not one to argue though, and move inside to salvage what you can. Again, you score a jackpot as the place is filled with tools. There isn’t a normal human’s axe in the world that can even put a dent in ironwoods, but these hardcore tools should do the trick. You chalk up another point for yourself as you also find a wheelbarrow buried beneath many blankets piled in a corner. It only surprises you that there isn’t any wood already stockpiled for later use here.

You’re not going out to actually chop down any trees; it would take ages to chop up all the wood into manageable sizes and would be quite noisy. You’re just going to find some pieces already on the ground, possibly cut them up, and haul them all back to the mansion. Most of these tools are just to help you pick the things up, as they are quite dense and heavy.

The only thing you’re worried about is what to do with the orb? It’s quite bright, and if you haven’t attracted attention with it already, you’re almost certain that you will in the time that this should take you. You could just leave it here at the shack under some covers and come back for it later, but of course there’s the risk of someone just taking it if they found it. The light is bright enough to be seen through the thin sheets. You could continue lugging it around in your new cart. You should be able to handle anything that comes your way. You also know that not many creatures have night vision like you do. You are able to transition between light and dark at ease without being blinded by the shifting amount of brightness in an area. Most creatures lack this, and if you were to move out of the field of light, you would have an advantage over them in their inability to see past the boundary of light.

It’s just a few things to think about. As usual, you don’t mind a little risk, but you’ve almost had your fill of ‘fun’ for the day.

[ ] Leave the orb in the shack under the covers. You guess you could always get another one anyway…
[ ] Take the orb with you as you gather wood. You might even see something you would otherwise not have noticed.
[ ] Write in.

‘Um, I could watch it for you here if you really want. At the very least, I should be able to find you if anything happens.’

[ ] Leave the orb here in the shack with your fairy on guard. She might need the alone time anyway.
[X] Take the orb with you as you gather wood. You might even see something you would otherwise not have noticed
[X] Take the orb with you as you gather wood. You might even see something you would otherwise not have noticed.

It'd be easier to stop thieves from taking it if we're carrying it.
[x] Leave the orb here in the shack with your fairy on guard. She might need the alone time anyway.

Offering some trust to our fairy friend.
[x] Leave the orb here in the shack with your fairy on guard. She might need the alone time anyway.

Better test its loyalty now than later
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[X] Leave the orb here in the shack with your fairy on guard. She might need the alone time anyway.

________________________________________

Your friend places the orb under some old ragged sheets in the corner of this run down shack.

‘… stay… watch… orb… do… not… be… stolen… find… me… if… so…’ whispers a faint voice in your mind.

It saddens you that you cannot get a clearer message through this form of communication, though it appears as though your friend clearly understands your meaning and intent when you relay messages back to her. You would have brought this up, but it seems as though your friend was quite excited over the prospect of having her own private conversations with someone. You didn’t want to spoil her fun. Besides, it seems as if it is only your understanding and manipulation of the magical link from your end is what prevents you from completely getting a full thought. You are finding that as you become more proficient with its manipulation and interpretation, you are able to hear more words at louder volumes in your mind. You can only imagine how perfect your friend’s messages are when you send them to her, as she seems like she has done this type of magic multiple times before.

You look upon the Kasha as she turns to take her cart and disappear into the trees. You call her ‘friend’ and you cannot doubt the meaning behind the word. Here she was, a fearless Youkai who wandered into a known unknown danger, and faced it down in its entirety. Through it all, she found you, a helpless fey of surface origin, and took you in in your time of need. You know it sounds like some kind of mushy nonsense only seen in some books you’ve found and read, but now it’s actually happened. You just don’t know how to repay her, as traveling with her seems more like a burden to her to further help you.

She said to not worry about your past, as that’s long gone now… So what about the present? Here you are, a fairy way out of her element, and you possibly have a vengeful spirit thing living inside you. You can’t sense anything of it, but you have no experience with this kind of thing either. All you’ve ever known is what you’ve figured out in your life. Your life… you wonder how it’s going to go now. It seems as if you were undying… never to be sent back to the cycle of magic that flows in the world.

It’s a chilling prospect, but you can also clearly see the positive sides of your ‘immortality’. Now, you don’t have to worry about getting killed in this place. You were told that if you were to die here, your essence may not be allowed to reform due to the negative energy of this place conflicting with your own. You guess you also don’t have to worry about losing your mind or ability to retain knowledge, as you seem to be able to get right back up just fine after exploding. It’s all things you should be thinking on, but you’ve been at it for a while now. Oh right, there’s something you were suppose to be doing.

You turn to check on the presence of the orb and are relieved to see it still in place. You are pretty sure you were deep in thought for a while there; you still have a lot to take in after tonight’s events, in as much as there is a ‘night’ underground. You still don’t exactly understand how that all works, or why plants even grow here to begin with. You keep in mind to ask about it all later, but for now, you must be vigilant! At any moment, you are sure that some sneaky Youkai might become a bit too curious about the source of light, and check it out. That is when you’ll strike! Or not. You’re actually not too sure what you could do about it, really. Honestly, you just wanted to be able to wander around near by for a bit to stretch your wings; being stuck in a cage for years on end tends to have that effect on you.

Well, you’re sure you fly around with the orb in view through a window, so it should still be fine. Right, speaking of windows, you prepare to take off from the table you stand on through the window next to it. Well you would, if the window was open. Huh, you thought that one had been open the whole time. Well there’s always the other one… which seems to be blocked now too. You’re pretty sure these windows don’t even have shutters. Right then, out the door you… don’t go, as a wall of what appears to be wood and leaves bars your way.

You are first struck at the idea of someone boarding up the door and windows without your knowledge, but a second thought comes to your attention. Wasn’t there something she said about the plants here? You can obviously see that they somehow have thrived here, but there was something else… Something about being asleep? Like animals? Or maybe like how everything looks dead in the winter. Yeah, something like that, how nothing grows because there’s no light… here…

You hear the rustling of sticks and plants moving cross the floor. Looking down from your table, you see what appears to be the roots and limbs of the plants rapidly growing towards the light emitting from under the blankets.

Great, the plants are going to steal the orb, and once again, you’re stuck in a small room with nothing to help you.
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[X] Realize that you have no idea how to properly split wood.

You could have sworn this would be easier than this. You’ve seen others do this kind of thing before; they just found nice large limbs that had fallen on the ground, placed them on their side, and split them down the middle to then add to their stack in some cart. Why then is this proving to be more difficult than, say, wrangling a spirit? There’s just no reason, you figure, no good cause.

And what about these useless tools? Apparently these things were ‘specially made’ for these jobs, but this axe seems too dull to even split a hair, and you don’t even know what this thing is for. It looks like a jumble of metal meant to help in the movement of the wood short distances, such as up and into carts. Fat load of good that does for you if you can’t even cut what you have into manageable sizes.

Complaints fly through your head as you haplessly attempt to cut a piece of wood you were barely even able to lift upright. Ok, so maybe the claims of these trees being stronger than human forged metals may not have been quite so exaggerated as you first thought they were. Great, now you’re doubting their flammability. You know that it takes more than an average flame to ignite them, and when lit will last an eternity, but you question if your little balls of flame will be enough to do such a thing.

Exhausted, you cease your swinging to sit down for a bit. You wonder how your fairy is fairing by her lonesome, though you doubt her life is currently very eventful. Hell, it’s possible she just upped and left, deciding to have no more to do with you. You wouldn’t put it past her; you’re sort of the reason she’s like how she is now. If you didn’t show up and cause such a commotion with her pervious companions and your spirit, then at least they would be around, if still insane, and she would still be a normal fairy.

Speaking of her companions, weren’t there three of them total? The black haired one, her with her gray hair… Oh yeah, the red headed one that seemed to want to rip your throat out! You forgot all about her after hell broke loose. The last time you caught a glimpse of her, you’re pretty sure her cage was toppled to the ground, though still intact. Hmm, you figure that she’s still in that sideways cage now in a room filled with fairies, orbs, and now spirits. Such is the life of a crazy fairy, you suppose.

That all aside, you turn your attention to wondering if you could possibly communicate with your fey at this distance. You figure it’s possible as you can feel the magical link being retained. You’ve never kept a link up for such an extensive period of time, nor at such a relatively extreme distance. All you ever use it for is for forceful acquisition of vengeful spirits that are only a few feet from you, and that only takes about a minute tops. Again, the prospect of learning about magical aspects of life and spells intrigues you, and the idea of refining your own magical prowess, the very magic you can control, excites you beyond comparison. Magic is cool; you just wish you had more reason to delve into its intricacies. A major boundary is your inability to use many spells beyond your own, so you relish the chance to improve yourself.

Focusing back on the link, you know it’s still there. The question is if either of you can hear anything of it. This goes back to magic not being absolute, as it regularly interferes with itself. It’s just a question of if the user can focus their mind enough to maintain the purpose and integrity of their spell. Variables such as distance and ambient energy can hamper a spell, especially one that is maintained, such as your little link.

You try to concentrate, listening for anything from your little friend. The spell doesn’t passively read emotions, only basic thoughts, which is what you are trying to find. You guess it’s like eavesdropping, and in your sudden bout of moral conflict on intruding on other’s privacy, you find yourself more understanding of Her and Her own conflict with others. Wow, that’s weird how that all fits together. It all really makes more sense when you experience it yourself. Yeah, you really shouldn’t ever do this without the fairy’s permission, but right now you just want to see if this will even work. You won’t listen too closely, just enough to hear her at all. You guess that’s how she knew what you were thinking about when she offered to go to the tower, or to guard the orb. Just as you don’t mind Her listening to you, you don’t mind your fairy either.

You could just try to send a message back to her, but she’ll probably be startled and more guarded in her thoughts, assuming she can hear you at all. No, it’s easier for you to get a message than it would be to send one and figure out if she got it.





It’s been a few minutes, and nothing came of it. Well, it was a good thought at the very least. Well, back to trying to split these lo-

‘... nothing grows… no light… here…’

What was that!? You know you heard something, that some meaning and words flashed through your mind, and you’re pretty sure no ones out here in the middle of the forest muttering to themselves.

‘… plants… rapidly… light… under…’

That has to be her. You definitely recognize the light airy feelings that come with the thoughts. You jump up in excitement as your plan comes to fruition. Wow, even this far away and you can communicate with an ‘unliving’ creature. Um… well, you want to stand by your stance on not listening more than you need to, but her words confuse you. You believe there was something about plants and being fast? You believe she also mentioned the light of the orb from under the sheets. Your curiosity gets the better of you, and you know you’ll ridicule yourself later.

‘… steal the orb… stuck… room… nothing to help me…’

What?! You set aside your mixed emotions on the matter and spring back to your feet, dropping everything you’re holding. Those don’t sound like the thoughts of reflection. You take off in a full sprint to make a beeline back to the shack. It really could just be her depression with life and you’ll console her further if it comes to that, but right now you’d rather be safe than sorry.

Another possibility comes up. Something must have snuck through the brush and she took notice of it. It then rushed her, grabbed the orb, and stuck her in some small space with no way out. Well, you’re about to find out.

This can’t be the right shack; it’s much too overgrown with weeds, and the door and windows seem to have been filled in with wood or something.

‘Maybe… I really am the aspect of misfortune…’

No, she’s in there alright. Right place or not, you have to get in there. If the orb isn’t there, so be it. You can always get another one.

‘No… I must be strong! I must do something. I shouldn’t be useless… That’s how I lost my other friends…’

Whoa, those thoughts are kind of worrying. She should really stop stressing over her losses. There’s not much more she can do for them. It’s possible she might even lose herself in a similar manner as her two friends had lost their minds. Ok, you really have to get in there right now before that happens. You could use a fireball, but that might cause the whole building to quickly go up in smoke with her still inside. Maybe you could pry off the-

The whole shack explodes apart as a huge surge of magical energy is released from within it.

[ ] Be the atoner.
[ ] Be the witness.
I want to address something real quick. I'm sure a few of you have noticed that I seem to randomly pick which vote wins in case of a tie. I don't think I have picked a vote that outright hasn't won or at least tied yet, so that's good. It's actually not random, arbitrary, or by me picking favorites (not yet at least) between the ties. I just count votes from any outside readers I share the original document with.

I would just like to point this out in case it was dissuading any of you from voting for what you wanted to happen, in case it seemed like I was picking what I wanted to happen. I do hold the opinion that as the writer, I'll write what I consider fun to write, but I want to try to present what my readers want to be presented.

That said, is everyone ok with my outside voters? They have their reasons for not posting directly to the site. Also, is there anything else dissuading any one from voting, such as some aspect of the story, or some idea that it won't matter due to possible railroading?

Any and all feedback is welcome, and again, thanks for reading.
[X] Be the atoner.
[X] Be the atoner.

I haven't heard of that kind of voting before, but in the end you are the writer, and these are your rules. Maybe... give us a head's up as to what your "external" voters are thinking? Like a vote tally or something?
>>12465
Yes, I can do that. I usually don't call votes or anything as it isn't until around 10pm for me when I finally get to write the post for the day during weekdays. I can easily start putting a tally up before I start writing, though with that I guess I might as well require a time by which all vote must be put in for the rest of the month. So again:

PLEASE HAVE ALL VOTES FOR THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER IN BY 6PM EST (5AM SITE TIME).

So yeah, I'll put up the daily vote count at that time, if there is one. I'll also figure out a way to get across their reasoning, though it'll probably come along with the tally, as again, they have their reasons for not using the site directly.

I'll probably reiterate the notice next post.
[X] Be the witness.

We can do more as Rin than as the fairy.
Internet issues behind me, here are that tally I promised and that I'll show from now on. Any outside voters are represented by '+X'. Currently I have three other readers who may at times decide to actually vote.

[2+1] Be the atoner
[1] Be the witness

And their thoughts on this vote were that they wanted to see what it meant for this fairy to be atoned from her perspective.
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[X] Be the atoner.

=====

Once again, you’re stuck in a small room with nothing to help you.

Well, that’s ok though, because she’ll come back to help you again, just like last time. You mean, sure you haven’t really done anything to help her in your short time together. You guess when you brought up going to the tower, she considered it but came here to finish her first job. You didn’t really want to bring it up, but you wanted to say something. Yeah, you haven’t really done anything at all. The only thing that makes you stand out from the other fairies is that you can think for yourself, but how far can that get you in a place such as this? Normally you’d be smart enough to not even imagine yourself being in this place to begin with, or to even have such a place envisioned in your mind!

Why does she really want to keep you around? Maybe she’s just pitying you, and really, you need it. Undying or not, you still wouldn’t be able to survive out here. You’d probably end up as some demented Youkai’s plaything, to be tormented to death over and over until you were discarded to the side, never having the will to move again. Such thoughts send shivers down your spine.

But still… she wouldn’t abandon you as quickly as she found you, you saw that in her. But what if she did, what if you really were trapped here forever if you did nothing? But there’s nothing you can do! Again, you’re just a simple fairy with the power of a simple fairy! You’re not only useless to her, but also to yourself…

You jump slightly as your enclosure moves. After the roots reached the orb, they went into some sort of frenzy. Plants and wood grew rapidly within the shack, and with nowhere to run, eventually you too were enclosed within another tiny cell, this one made of wood. At least the plants had the dignity to allow you some amount of room. You begin to retract that sentiment as it seems as if your chamber is slowly shrinking. So that’s it then? You’re to be entrapped within a tree, unable to move, yet unable to die?

That’s it, that’s your specialty. Maybe the gods have damned you, maybe nature needed you, but in any case, you really are the aspect of misfortune. It’s the only explanation of why everything in your life has gone wrong. You’re surprised your friend is still even alive after being near you. You were certain that as soon as she stepped foot within your prison she would soon be no more. Maybe she isn’t right now. Maybe that’s why she hasn’t come back yet, as you’ve doomed her to some unfortunate fate that you will never hear of, only knowing that it was your fault…

‘… she’s… there… have to… in…’

Wh-what? Did someone say something? No, no one else is here… but she can still talk to you! Remembering this, you shake yourself out of your daze you hadn’t realized you were in. How long were you like that? Anyway, you’ve got to tell you’re your in here, that you’re ok. You concentrate your thoughts, trying to remember how you were sending messages earlier. It’s a lot easier when she’s the one starting the conversation, but for some reason you’re just not getting through to her, as if a haze is over your thoughts.

The feeling of hopelessness quickly reunites itself with you.

No! Forget that! Like she said, you really must stop dwelling so much on the past. You must be strong! You must do something. You shouldn’t be useless, no one truly is. You just have to take what’s given to you and use it to your advantage. You shouldn’t panic, as that’s how you lost your other friends in the past. If you had just stayed focused… Like now! Go away past, you need to think about the present! You need to think about what’s going on now!

A sense of rage fills you.

In fact, what is going on right now?! So plants came in because of that orb thing, so what? Did you do anything about it? No! You were too busy worrying over nothing! And now here you are, about to be eaten by some tree! What a way to go! Even if you did get out of this, what else is the world going to throw at you? You know it’s going to happen so… Yeah! Bring it on world! Bring it on Underworld! You don’t know how, you don’t care how, but you will carry on with your life, dealing the swings as you take them!

SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO ME NOW, HUH?!? YOU ACCEPT THIS TORREMENT! YOU WILL EMBRACE YOUR COLD HEARTED FATE!

WHAT MORE CAN BE DONE TO YOU NOW!?!

-----

With your emotions released for the world to witness, you now find yourself at peace, with both your future and your past.

With a smile on your face and tears flowing freely, you curl up into a small ball. You don’t know what it is, or why you’ve never noticed it before, but you feel a strange power within you. It’s as if it were always there, just never called upon, never noticed until this very moment. What is it? Some new spell or power? It could be dangerous, even devastating. It’s use will probably just lead to further tears in the end for everyone involved.










Still smiling, you release this power all at once.
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[X] A calming darkness…

Perfect. Right now, in this time, in this place, your life is perfect. No worries, no obligations, no life threatening situations, no dramatic twists or turns, nothing bothers you in this blank void you find yourself floating through. This is a place of rest, of recuperation. A place that you can allow your mind to heal after any ordeal.

This is also a place to think.

Here, you can use your unique ability of reason in a completely stress free environment. You know that any time spent in this place is but a second in the eyes of reality. So what happened?

Hmm. The plants went after the orb, so you’ll start with the hunk of light. Sure, you may have not cared too much about your surroundings in that wrecked building after the first few years, but you do recollect that the orbs closest to the front of the building right under the mass of fairies on the rafters were brighter than others in the back. You also remember that while you were in your stupor, you caught glimpses of your friendly cat eared person studying a stack of orbs. As she approached, they grew a hint brighter, which is what attracted your otherwise dulled attention to begin with. Finally, while the two of you were making your way to the shack, you noticed the orb your friend carried also having that same hint of brightness.

It’s as if the orbs were powered by life itself. The fairies, your friend, the plants, yeah, that makes sense. With that in mind, it could also possibly work the other way around; creatures and even plants could find themselves more lively and energetic around these things. You also remember from what your friend explained to you that these plants have been in dormancy ever since some major event you can’t recall the details of had happened. Apparently there was some similar gigantic crystal given life to the cavern plants, but that crystal was lodged high off the ground in the ceiling. Hmm, on the surface, when winter greets spring and life returned to the land, it still took a day or two before the plants responded, as if waking up. After that though, they rapidly grew leaves again and the land shifted to a mixture of colors as blossoms bloomed over the flora.

Maybe then, what if it took some time for these plants near the orb to wake too? And when they finally did, they reacted drastically due to the proximity of the orb, growing promptly with trees and brush both wanting to keep the orb so as to remain ‘awake’ and grow once more. It all makes sense.

Well, all that or it was some plant Youkai. Probably both.

With that settled, you believe it is time to finally depart this world. You feel within you that you can always come back here by releasing that mysterious energy again at anytime, but you feel that doing so is actually quite destructive. Maybe with time, you’ll be able to control it, and control your coming here a little better.

=====

Whoa, what? You lean over the body of your little fairy companion in the middle of the small crater she created, previously worried for her safety even though you know she can’t dissipate. What you find odd is the rate at which her mind is currently running; still monitoring the link and looking into her conscious, you witness a million images a second, unable to process any of them. Just now, however, was different. You were suddenly waylaid by a plethora of information and thoughts on what happened here and why, and you understand every bit of it.

What you don’t understand is how you understand. You’ll just leave that question for later.

After receiving the avalanche of info, you see the little fey stirring. Good, she’s finally recovering. Almost instantly after thinking that, her eyes snap open and she jumps to her feet, as excited about life as ever, as if she wasn’t in the dead center of another explosion.

‘Oh wow, hi, you came back! Um, so I thought about a few things while you were gone, and some plants tried to get the orb and they did while I was thinking and then they grabbed me and I was stuck and couldn’t come find you so I kind of started sulking but then I thought about what you said about not worrying about the past and now it all makes sense to me so as of then I’m going to start living for the present and working towards the future taking whatever life throws at me because I guess I can’t really die per say so there’s that but after that I think I kind of blew up in a literal sense and what’s cool is that I can feel that power in me still so I’m pretty sure I can do it again, probably at anytime even but after that I go into some sort of mental bliss were I don’t exactly listen to reality anymore and I just kind of float there, but I can think about what I want however long I want and I thought about what happened with the plants and I think it has something to do with the orb and possibly some Youkai that I’m surprised hasn’t attacked yet if it even is. I just wanted to get that out of the way. Now what?’

[ ] ‘What.’
[ ] ‘Could you repeat that, but slower?’
[ ] ‘Could you tell me more about <topic>?’
[ ] ‘Ok, that’s a lot to take in, but for some reason I get the jist on what happened here. Yeah, let’s see about…
- [ ] Getting that orb back, it could be useful later.’
- [ ] Forgetting the orb and just getting that wood in some other part of the forest.’
- [ ] Forgetting the orb and this forest. I think I said I was trying to avoid conflicts for the rest of the day.’
[ ] ‘Write in response.’
[X] ‘Ok, that’s a lot to take in, but for some reason I get the jist on what happened here. Yeah, let’s see about… 
-[X] Getting that orb back, it could be useful later.’ 
[ ] ‘Ok, that’s a lot to take in, but for some reason I get the jist on what happened here. Yeah, let’s see about…
- [ ] Getting that orb back, it could be useful later.’
[ ] ‘Ok, that’s a lot to take in, but for some reason I get the jist on what happened here. Yeah, let’s see about…
- [ ] Getting that orb back, it could be useful later.’

The hunt begins
[x] ‘Ok, that’s a lot to take in, but for some reason I get the jist on what happened here. Yeah, let’s see about…
- [x] Getting that orb back, it could be useful later.’


Fairy is now hyperactive.
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[X] ‘Ok, that’s a lot to take in, but for some reason I get the jist on what happened here. Yeah, let’s see about…
- [X] Getting that orb back, it could be useful later.’

Right, that would probably be a lot simpler if the majority of the shack and its occupants weren’t blown away. All that remains is a shallow hole with pieces of the former building and wood scattered all around, with no orb in sight. Well, that’s ok, it’s not like this is the biggest forest in the underground. In fact, all you have to do is remain absolutely still and completely silent.

The subterranean wind gently blows by your ears as you listen for any abnormalities. Tree limbs rustle lightly and foliage remain inactive as you listen. Any small misstep, any tiny bump or creak, that’s all you’ll need.





There! Further into the depths of the trees comes the pitter patter of disturbed undergrowth. It seems as if they aren’t even trying to hide themselves at this point. Too bad for them that your hearing is a little more refined than your average bear. Or something. These sayings are kind of dumb sometimes. Now sprinting towards your target, your fairy hangs on tightly atop your head.

Ok, obviously whatever wants this orb has a good chance of being quite defensive over keeping it, so you plan on approaching them ready to fight. The plants don’t seem to agree with your advancement to their depths as the undergrowth becomes ever thicker, to the point of nearly hampering your movement. You think it’s time for some elegant agile movements, and quickly take to the trees. Swiftly bounding from limb to limb you quickly reach your target at the cavern wall at the farthest point within the forest. You instantly prepare yourself for whatever it may be, take a great leap towards the center of a large field, and land on your feet, claws at the ready right in front of your target.

It’s a lot furrier than you thought it would be, as you imagined it to be more… plant like, really. The huge mass of black fur seems to walk on four very large paws and seems to only have a small flap of fur in the center of it all, which faces you. What an odd creature. You don’t exactly explore the outskirts of the cavern very often, so you guess there could be stranger things naturally out there. Well, you don’t feel like negotiating with whatever it is, so you get right to it.

“Hey ugly! You have the orb? If you do, hand it over now and I won’t have to give you a new hair cut!” you yell in attempt to intimidate it. There’s only a slight chance of it working, which would make your life that much easier, but most likely it’ll ignore your words and go straight for you. At least you think you sound cool.

‘You know, that actually looks like something from the surface. They’re a little rare, and I believe I’ve only seen one, but what was it called…’

Wow, the surface is weirder than you thought it was if it has these things. Oh hey, it’s doing something, turning around. Oh that’s a head, and a face! That must have been its hindquarters then… Well don’t you feel silly. The large black furred creature comes to face you with its long snout and beady little eyes. Man, those claws actually look really sharp.

‘Oh yeah, it’s a bear! Oh gods, it’s a BEAR!’

Ah, cave bear. You’ve heard of those. They’re really big and mean and like to sleep a lot. Oh, and they stand up to look really vicious. This suddenly doesn’t seem like a good idea…

The black bear now towers before you, it coming on its hind legs while you where in thought. Geez that thing’s enormous.

‘I see a hole in the wall over there, so it was probably asleep until now.’

Still towering, it lets out a great roar in your direction. You’d probably be pissed if you were threatened right after getting up too. It drops back to all four and takes the first swing with its massive claw, but you’re ready for it and jump back out of its swipe. Its obviously too slow to ever hit you, and you don’t want to kill it just because it was the first thing you found, so you decide to retreat back to the tree line.

Bear at your heels, you quickly make it to the trees. You could have sworn this clearing was a tad bit larger than this. Also, wow, bears are fast for being fat as hell. You jump on to a jutting limb and sit, watching as the bear eyes you expectantly on the ground. Did you mention those creatures are really large? Well, enough gawking over the new animal, time to-

Whoa, you get the strangest feeling of being moved, not of your own volition. Looking over, you see the very limb of the tree bending back towards the forest. Before you can react, the limb then swings forward, sending you flying off it and back into the field. What was that all about?

Well, no time to think on it, as the bear now closes in on you at your landing point. Ok, let’s try that again. As you race back to the trees, you see the underbrush visibly growing, completely blocking the space between every tree. You’re pretty sure that’s not normal, as it kind of hasn’t happened in, oh, a hundred or so years now?

Well, if you can’t go through the trees, you’ll just go over them. You hastily scale a trunk, but as you reach the upper limbs, you become assaulted by every little branch and twig that can bend to reach you. You’re not hurt, but it smarts like no one’s business. Yeah, there’s no way you can make it through the forest up here and not pass out from the pain, and there’s no way you’re dropping down to the forest floor after seeing those plants grow. Looks like you have no choice but jump back into the clearing and face that bear, then you’ll have time to figure out how to get past this mess.

As you jump back down, you come face to face with the charging beast. It’s closing fast and you’ll have to think of something, but you are completely against putting it down if you can help it.

[ ] Put it down…
- [ ] Immediately. As much as it will disturb you, you’re pretty sure you’re about to have greater matters to attend to, what with the hostile plant life.
- [ ] As a last resort. Again, you don’t want to, but if it comes to it…
[ ] Attempt to tire it out by running around and dodging its blows, preferably before you do yourself. You have been running around all day without so much as a break though.
[ ] Hurt it just enough to succumb to the pain. It’s a dirty way to fight, but he’ll get better over time.

‘There’s also the cave it was probably sleeping in over there.’

[ ] Enter the cave. At best, it’s a way out though a bunch of twisty passages. At worst, it’ll just be a dead end. Still, there might be something in there that could help.
[ ] Write in.

[X] Put it down…
- [X] Immediately. As much as it will disturb you, you’re pretty sure you’re about to have greater matters to attend to, what with the hostile plant life.
[X] Put it down…
[X] Hurt it just enough to succumb to the pain. It’s a dirty way to fight, but he’ll get better over time.
[X] Enter the cave. At best, it’s a way out though a bunch of twisty passages. At worst, it’ll just be a dead end. Still, there might be something in there that could help.
>>12486
Er, you kind of have to pick one of the subvotes, or put in a write in.
[X] Put it down…
- [X] Immediately. There's good eating on a bear, and you can't let it get away with attacking you.
[x] Hurt it just enough to succumb to the pain. It’s a dirty way to fight, but he’ll get better over time.

Just need to drive it off. No need to kill the bear when it didn't do anything.
Votes called:

[3] Put it down…
- [1] Immediately. As much as it will disturb you, you’re pretty sure you’re about to have greater matters to attend to, what with the hostile plant life.
- [1+1] As a last resort. Again, you don’t want to, but if it comes to it…
- [1] Immediately. There's good eating on a bear, and you can't let it get away with attacking you.
[+1] Attempt to tire it out by running around and dodging its blows, preferably before you do yourself. You have been running around all day without so much as a break though.
[2] Hurt it just enough to succumb to the pain. It’s a dirty way to fight, but he’ll get better over time.
[1] Enter the cave. At best, it’s a way out though a bunch of twisty passages. At worst, it’ll just be a dead end. Still, there might be something in there that could help.

I counted that one 'Immediately' vote separately as it had a different motive and intent behind it, which is also at the opposite end of how Rin feels about this situation. I'll do a paradigm shift or such if people vote for it though, as she is still 'you'.

As for the outside vote of the day, he says that tiring it out may actually work, as it still just woke up and may find having to exert that much energy in such a short period of time to be a hassle in a few more minutes. Just in case though, they want to put it down if that doesn't work.
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[X] Put it down…
- [X] As a last resort. Again, you don’t want to, but if it comes to it…
[X] Hurt it just enough to succumb to the pain. It’s a dirty way to fight, but he’ll get better over time.

The only two ways to handle this non lethally would be to either run around until one of you tires first, hopefully it, or to carefully take shots at it until it submits to its pain. Either way, something is also keeping you trapped here to begin with, so you don’t want to exhaust yourself before facing it too. Looks like you’re doing this the painful way, but at least he’ll eventually recover in the end, hopefully when you’re long gone.

He charges at you still, so you wait until he gets close to sidestep right and draw your claws to take a swipe at his open flank. Their inch length aren’t as long as this beast’s, but you know that his will wear and break long before yours even as so much as gets a scratch. You make first contact by taking a slash at his fur with one hand and jump back before he can retaliate, observing the damage. That’s peculiar; you expected to have drawn blood, but it seems as if you didn’t even manage to even cut off any of its fur!

‘Its fur is probably highly resistant to being removed by most normal means.’

‘Yeah, that would actually explain how this thing’s managed to survive down here with the crazier beasties roaming around.’

Just to make sure, you again wait for his charge, anticipating something a little different this time. He does so, and as you dodge to the side once more, he immediately swings his body around to face you and strike, but you were ready for that. You instantly back step and slash at his furry face, only to witness you claws bounce right off. Great, that confirms that.

Time to use a little more force then. You backpedal as you ready a special fireball with more bang and less flame. You’re going to try to blow the fur right off him, hopefully without catching him on fire. Again, you’re not trying to cause more bloodshed than is required to knock him out, which includes not burning him to death. Hmm, no, you don’t want to go for his face either so…

You turnabout and leap just as he approaches once more, and land close at his rear. Catching him mid-turn, you launch the ball at his side and shield yourself from the recoil of the fire burst, holding your stance to keep your footing. Impressively, it didn’t send him flying or catch him on fire, but it did manage to knock him over on his side. You take the chance to run up and leap on his side to take a jab in the area of the scorched fur. Whoa, fast healing hair. It’s not immediate, but you can visibly see the hairs of the burn site slowly repairing from their frayed state, working from the edge of the site inward. Well, now or never.

You slash with both hands and are rewarded with drawn blood. You actually had half a mind that that wouldn’t work. In your surprise, you are caught slightly off guard as the bear quickly rolls over and upright. Before you can jump off, you lose your footing and fall to the ground, rolling away before he pins you under his mass. Ok, so he’s large and slow but he’s not dumb, and now he’s probably pissed that you managed to get a hit in on him. You’ll have to be more careful.

This dance of death continues for a few more minutes as you get a few more blasts off on him, with you sometimes able to go in for a few more stabs and sometimes deeming it too risky. In the end, you find you’re both starting to slow in your movements. It’s not apparent, but you can feel it as your motions are sluggish to you. Eh, you might end up tiring both yourselves out anyway, but you’d rather have it not come to that. You also hope it doesn’t come to having to put him down, but you haven’t placed yourself in such a position as for that to be an issue. Yet.

Still, you have to think of something soon. He’s adopting to your fight style, so there’s another point that’s starting to go against you. What to do, what to do…

Looking towards the cavern wall, a thought crosses your mind.

‘That, uh, yeah that could work if you angle yourself properly.’

Of course it’ll work! Crazy ideas have helped you through some of the toughest fights of your life, and this one will probably be no exception.

Starting off, you dash towards the wall, knowing the bear will follow closely behind. You stop right as the wall, but he’s smarter than that and begins to slow before ramming into the wall. You didn’t think he’d do it himself, but you plan to help him along anyway.

Putting yourself in motion, you start with another great leap over and to his rear. He foresaw this and started turning instantly to his left as you leapt. You slide to his right, keeping to his rear as he turns left up until almost facing the wall once more, then he decides to turn right, as if knowing your plan. With the wall to your left, you, take another leap over him, but land with your hand on his back to fake him out and change your direction to land between him and the wall. He changes direction once more to turn left, thinking you to be behind him.

You take the time as he turns to study his footing, readying yourself. Noticing your presence once more at the wall, he finally makes the motion to turn towards you and the wall, and you take the opportunity to make a slide between his legs to his rear once more, fireball at the ready. His inertia prevents him from changing his course of motion. As his head lines up with the wall, you blast him from behind for a resounding ‘BAM’ as his head makes contact with the wall, knocking him out cold.
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[X] You pretty sure he’ll be fine with a little rest.

Something like that, else this would have all been in vain. With the bear knocked unconscious, you’re finally left with a moment of reprieve. You feel every inch of your body sore to some degree. Man, that actually took a lot more out of you than you thought. You glance over to the now sleeping bear, seeing that every inch of its fur has regrown back to perfection. Hmm, yeah, totally worth it.

You walk over to the side of his collapsed bulk and proceed to rest against the wall of fluff. For giant man eating monsters, these guys are pretty comfortable. Sitting back, you scan the field. It’s still completely void of obstructions, but every tree on the field’s edge seems to have their branches all seemingly pointed directly at you menacingly. You’re pretty sure this forest is out to get you. Literally, the forest appears to be approaching you, for as you stare into the tree line, the trees seem to be slowly encroaching in towards your position at the wall.

They still have a ways to go if they are, so you’ll just use this time to sit here and rest up a bit. It’s been a very long day, and even Youkai need their sleep at times. Not to say that you’re going to sleep right here in the middle of gods know where, but right now you just wish that you had time to just take… a tiny… nap…

‘Uh, hey…’



‘Um, are you asleep?’



‘You… you probably want to get up now…’

Ok, so maybe you did close you eyes for a second, but still…

‘This looks kind of bad. Could you please wake up and take a look?’

It’s only been a few seconds; a few more won’t hurt.

‘No really, you seriously want to wake up now.’

Do you? You mean, you do, but just one… more… second…

‘Ok, I didn’t want to alarm you, but… THE PLANT MAN THING IS ABOUT TO EAT YOU!’

Your eyes snap open in time to witness a large leafy maw with teeth inching towards your head. You feel a surge of energy burst though you has your heart starts racing. Ok, time to get up.



Of course you can’t move your legs. They’re not ‘asleep’, but something is holding them in place. Thankfully your arms and hands still work, so you work with what you have.

[ ] Claw it!
[ ] Burn it!
[ ] Avoid it!
[ ] Ask it!
[ ] Take it…

‘If you remember, I did say I could probably do that one thing I did earlier. It doesn’t hurt, and I kind of like the aftereffect…’

[ ] FAIRYSPLOSION!
[x] Burn it!

Buuuuuurn things.
[x] Ask it!
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[x] Burn it!
Burn it to the ground!
[x] Ask it!
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[X] (Maybe) Burn it! (But first) Ask it!

Acting reflexively, you conjure a balled flame and hold it high above you threateningly. It looks to be a living plant, so it should also just as easily burn like one.

“Stay back! There can be many more of these fireballs right after this one!” you threaten. The gapping maw does not yield. “At least tell me what you want, if nothing else!” you say, waiting for only a moment.

In the absence of a response, you go though with your words just as the monster is but a foot away. As the flame enters its mouth, it habitually snaps it shut just as the whole head of the creature explodes, popping like a bubble.

Breathing a sigh of relief, you close you eyes for only an instant of instants to clear your mind, and to muster the will to face what you know is an immanent threat directly in front of you. You then slowly open your eyes.

Well this isn’t so bad. It’s just every imaginable and unimaginable monstrosity and nightmare of the forest lined up before you, probably to test their strength against you and most likely eventually devour you. Living trees, walking shrubs, giant flowers, and of course the brambly tentacle like blobs; it seems every literal freak of nature has been awoken or revived just to bring you down. Oh, and you still can’t stand.

Best. Day. Ever.

Yet there they sit, as if awaiting the command to overwhelm you. You anticipate the appearance of those involved any moment now.

“So you want to know what we want, huh?” asks a voice right on queue. “I may as well oblige, as you are the one who’s allowed for our awakening. But first, an introduction!” he announces.

Out of the very center of the mob steps what appears to be a large humanoid male like figure, with skin of bark and deep green hair. The bark-like texture ends at his head where is gives way for a simple light green face. You smirk.

“Ha! Wow!” you burst out, almost succumbing to a fit of laughter. Your fairy friend is even giggling lightly into your hair. You just can’t believe this whole forest upraising thing is being led by walking broccoli. The thought is just too absurd for you to handle.

“What!? Why do you joke at me?! Do not do so again, or I swear…” he demands, his green face gaining a red hue.

“I’m sorry, it’s nothing. My little friend just told me something funny, that’s all. You can continue explaining how you’re probably going to ‘reclaim’ the Underworld or something,” you respond in wit. It takes everything in your power to not as so much as break a smile his way. Your little friend, however, is hiding behind one of your great car ears and continues her uncontrollable snickering.

“Yes, thank you, but you see, we plan to take back- Hey! Don’t ruin my speech! Well in any case, I’m sure you’re wondering how I’ve managed to do all that I’ve already done, and how I plan to return this corrupted cavern back to it’s original beauty.”

“I’m going to assume you’re going to use that orb thing which apparently has the ability to install energy and vitality to any living thing, even plants. You’ll further awaken and probably strengthen the plants and creatures of the forest, lie in waiting for most likely the crystals to dim, then make your move to besiege and overtake the city.” You mentally high five the fairy. “At that point, all other plant kind will believe that their mission has been accomplished, but you’ll have a hidden agenda. You plan on overrunning the Administrative Building and capturing the great power contained within it and underneath the city, all to rule over those you set ‘free’ and to further your plans in taking over the world. Give or take a few details.”

You have no idea if any the second half of that spiel was true. You completely made it up, but the result of its purpose is immediately apparent. The green man has almost entirely shifted to a shade of red, while those of his cohorts who have the ability to, show an expression of confusion and anger. You can’t completely understand their language amongst them, but you can tell that squabbles and quarrels are rising among them.

“SILENCE! You idiots can’t tell she’s just trying to turn you all against each other?” he questions.

You yell, “So you’re going to overtake an entire city built by the Yama themselves, and NOT unleash the great power that’s obviously contained within it?” You don’t know if any of this is true, but the point of it all is to plant the idea.

He stares at you in disbelief. He cries out, “Wha… N- No! Of course not! That’s just ab- absurd!” And there’s the hesitation. Plain as the crystal’s light, every single being here heard it. They all instantly become enraged and fighting breaks out amongst them. Sides are instantly chosen on whether to keep his lead, or put him down.

This is obviously the work of an adolescent Youkai, one that doesn’t know their place in the world. Sure, everyone should be free to do their own thing, but to even start an uprising just after acquiring power? You better have covered your bases, including social skills.

“RRRRRAAAAAAARRRRRR!!! You fools! See this?” He now holds up your orb high above his head. “It was with this that I awoke you all into this world, and I can just as easily destroy it to take you all away!” he threatens.

“And what? Effectively kill yourself as well? As a young Youkai, there is no way, NO way, you’re going to do that to yourself,” you counter. That orb has magical energy just pouring out of it, even enough to spontaneously create plant Youkai by the looks of it.

With those words, a look of complete defeat washes over his form as his arms drop and his expression turns to that of sadness. This is the last you see of him as the monstrosities turn against him, ripping him to shreds.

And just like that, so ends the forest uprising, the idea of it dying as quickly as it bloomed to life.

Now to deal with these leaderless freaks and get your orb back.
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[X] First, get up.

It seems they’ve all started fighting over what to do with the orb and who gets it, so it’s probably not going anywhere for awhile. Seeing this, you finally take the time to see to your legs. What in the world is wrong with them? You give yourself a once over and find the source of the problem; a needle thin barb was lodged into your foot and you couldn’t feel it. It must have been from one of those spiny looking creeps you see wriggling in the fray.

Removal is fairly simple, but you’re sure it’ll still be a few minutes before you’re mobile again. Still, you must see that orb doesn’t leave your sight, which includes keeping it away from that one shrub thing that’s trying to sneak away with it.

“Hey!” you shout as you lob a fast one towards the would be thief. Upon connecting, the little shrub bursts into flames with the force of the resulting blast sending the orb off into the air. It lands with a simple thud closer to you than the center of the field. All eyes and sensory receptors are now on you as the little plant turns to ash.

You feel as if that may have been some sort of faux pas among those of plant like orientation. You’re pretty sure plants don’t have direct parents or something, but one similar looking bush, significantly larger than the now ashy one, seems to have taken exception to your actions and begins a flaying rush in your direction. They’re undoubtedly going to tear your limbs off or something similar to avenge their loss.

You can’t have that, now can you? You throw a ball in it’s direction, and though it catches flame, it continues its charge. It seems to be a tad bit more resilient than its predecessor. Still, you pay no mind to it as you simply toss another ball its way to down it.

You turn your attention to the mob of plant life that still eyes you carefully. You suddenly feel a large weight of suspense up in the air. They haven’t fled yet and they could easily overwhelm you if they all charged at once. You realize your banking on the idea that their simple minds don’t figure this out on their own. You have to hold an advantage over them somehow.

‘Hey, could you roll the orb over here? I’m mostly sure they won’t do anything to stop you. Maybe. Bit if any of them makes a move, I’ll just blast them, ok?’

‘Oh, um, sure! I mean, I guess I can do that thing if they get too close…’

The fairy braves the field to reach the orb as all eyes are now on her. She lands beside it and makes the first push to roll it your way. So far so good. A few of the beasties try to inch forward, but rethink their decision when you hold up an extremely large fireball. It’s actually just for show; you can’t create a flame that large that can sustain itself as it flies through the air without going out, so you’re just hoping it’ll deter them from doing anything crazy.

Slowly, inch by inch, the fairy makes her way over to you. You plan on holding the orb hostage in order to be allowed to leave, maybe even making promises of returning it if they do. Of course, that’s assuming that you can get your hands on it to begin with. Your fairy is now less than five feet away, but the mob keeps you tense. You still hold up the large flame, yet the entire horde as a whole is starting to inch forwards. You know it’s only a matter of time before…

They all charge. One of them took a larger pace forward, then another, and so on, until a second later when they all began the rush. You throw fastballs as rapidly as you can in a vain attempt to stave them off, but you know you have only a few seconds before they swarm you.

‘Ok, no rush, but uh, hurry up please?’

‘Oh, did they all decide to start running? I can just do that thing…’

‘Ah, no, don’t do that. I thought about it and the orb might not handle the sudden burst of energy very well.’

‘Oh. You could have told me that sooner.’

‘Yeah, that’s on me, but still, go as fast as you can!’

She pushes with all her might to bring the orb within reaching distance of your hands as you lean over an snatch it up. Just in time to, as the mass of plants is now upon you.

“Hold it!” you shout as you hold up a flame to the orb, stopping everyone in their tracks. “Now I know your previous leader tried this exact same thing on you all, but this will in no way affect me if I destroy it! Now I don’t mean for any of you to cease your existence, but I’ll be holding on to this thing until I get to the forest edge! You can all have it back when I leave safely,” you lie. You actually have no idea if you have the power within you to destroy the orb. You further exhausted yourself throwing those fastballs into the mob, and now are using everything within you to maintain the flame you now hold.

As for what you were going to do once at the forest’s edge? Well, er, you’ll worry about that when you get there.

‘I’ll do the thing?’ the fairy asks, now back atop your head.

‘You know, you seem really eager to just… blow yourself up.’


‘Ah, well to be honest, it’s not really the power I’m excited about, but I would like to return to that special state of mind I was in when I did it the first time! Well, at least I hope it happens again…’

Hmm, that actually sounds reasonable enough. ‘Yeah, ok, if they try anything when we get out of here, you can do the thing.’

You can hear the audible squeal of delight emitting from the little fey at the prospect. You let yourself even break a little smile at the thought of a plan finally coming together, and being able to get back to Her so the three of you can take a nice long nap. You can see the end of the night in sight.

Then the bear finally wakes back up.

[ ] Oh crap.
[ ] Oh good.
[ ] Oh.

‘Thing now?’

[ ] The thing.
[x] Oh good.

Ride the bear to the edge of the woods.
[x] Oh good.
Where's my bear cavalry pic when I need it the most?
[x] Oh good
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Not the classic one, but it works.
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[X] Oh good.

For better or worse, the overgrown black bear has awoken once more. All of you freeze in place as you all stare in awe at the now standing giant. He’s a lot bigger up close. He looks down upon you, as if judging you on the spot of your worth. You return not a look of cowardice nor bravery, but rather one of inquiry with a slight smile on your face.

He nods in acceptance.

‘Wait, what?’

‘It’s an animal thing; I’ll tell you later.’

With that, you step to the side to give him room to land on the two small plants previously behind you. Chaos breaks loose as the two of you fend of the rampaging plants. Between what fire you manage to muster within you and his renewed strength, the two of you easily cut their numbers in twain. Though simple minded they may be, they still understand the concept of preservation of existence. The remainder of their numbers practices the concept by hastily running back into the bleakness of the ironwood forest.

The bear lets out a great roar that echoes throughout the entire cavern. It’s a great feat, considering the cavern’s size.

After letting it all out, he now turns to you and stares.

“Hey, that was awesome! Thanks for the help. After everything I’ve been through, I needed it,” you say in appreciation.

He shakes his head up and down, then side to side.

“Yeah, don’t worry about it. I kinda had that one coming after I disturbed you. I think this orb here helped you heal though.”

He now rolls it about his neck.

“Oh, I completely understand. I’m pretty cranky too after just waking up. How long were you out, anyway?”

Again with that endless stare.

“Wow, yeah, that was a bit of a while ago by, say, two hundred or so years? I thought there was more to you than it appeared.”

He spins once around.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t imagine anyone being able to come down here and then just leave without being affected by the nature of this place by even a bit.”

‘Sorry to butt in, but what’s going on? Are you talking to the bear? Is it another magical link thing?’

“Oh, sorry, one sec, my head fairy is asking me something,” you explain.

‘Yeah, sorry for not including you, but like I said, it’s just this thing were we all as animals understand each other when were not in some kind of blind rage. That’s the idea, at least. Sometimes the massage just… doesn’t get across to them. Depends on who you’re dealing with, really.’

‘Oh, ok. I was just wondering, because it’s really scary looking but you were somehow just talking with it like it was nothing.’

‘Sure, I’ve never met a bear before, but he seems like a pretty relaxed guy when he’s not killing everyone. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.’

The bear looks at you quizzically.

“I’m kinda multilingual between talking with you can magically conversing with my fairy.” Now that you think about it, you find it pretty cool how you can do that. Being a Kasha is great.

He now enters some sort of ritual as he moves his head and body into various positions, with it ending in a head nod towards the forest.

‘Ok, what was that suppose to mean?’

‘He said that while he wondered what happened to this place, he figured that we’ve had a long enough day and asked if we wanted to be escorted through the woods. He mentioned it wouldn’t be a big deal either if those guys we fought were the toughest things out there.’

‘So… we get to ride on the giant bear?’

‘Hell yeah we do.’

“Thanks for this, it really help us out,” you say aloud.

With another head roll of what you assume to be acceptance, you hop up on top of the large beast. With you safely on top of his back and your fairy on top of your head, he bounds off towards the tree line. The brush is still overgrown, so you brace yourself as you all burst through the thorny limbs to the other side.

Once under the canopy of the trees, you see that it is otherwise completely devoid of light under here. The trees must have grown much larger in your time at the field, as their branches now intertwine with each other to shield out almost all of the dim crystal light. You wouldn’t want to imagine what could have happened under here if you had decided to venture forth on your own.

After a more minutes of gracefully galloping through the glade, you all finally find yourselves breaking past the last few bushes to the freedom of the rest of the underground.

You drop down off the bear’s back and once again remind yourself of the length of your day, but stop for a second to approach the bear one more time.

He seemed to be a bit disgruntled at the state of the forest, but what if…

[ ] Ask him if he would like to…
- [ ] Escort you back to the mansion. You really don’t want to deal with anything else today if you can help it.
- [ ] Come back to the mansion to stay. It really isn’t too bad of a place, if a little run down, and you could use all the help you can get. He could patrol the grounds or something.
- [ ] Stay here and keep the forest in check just in case anything similarly crazy happens again.
[ ] Say your farewells and take your leave.
[ ] Write in response.
[x] Ask him if he would like to…
-[x] Escort you back to the mansion. You really don’t want to deal with anything else today if you can help it.
-[x] Come back to the mansion to stay. It really isn’t too bad of a place, if a little run down, and you could use all the help you can get. He could patrol the grounds or something.
[x] Ask him if he would like to…
-[x] Escort you back to the mansion. You really don’t want to deal with anything else today if you can help it.
-[x] Come back to the mansion to stay. It really isn’t too bad of a place, if a little run down, and you could use all the help you can get. He could patrol the grounds or something.
[x] Ask him which one he'd like more:
- [x] Come back to the mansion to stay. It really isn’t too bad of a place, if a little run down, and you could use all the help you can get. He could patrol the grounds or something.
- [x] Stay here and keep the forest in check just in case anything similarly crazy happens again.
[x] Ask him which one he'd like more:
-[x] Come back to the mansion to stay. It really isn’t too bad of a place, if a little run down, and you could use all the help you can get. He could patrol the grounds or something.
-[x] Stay here and keep the forest in check just in case anything similarly crazy happens again.

Never hurts to offer.
Votes called.

[4+1] Ask him if he would like to…
- [2+1] Escort you back to the mansion. You really don’t want to deal with anything else today if you can help it.
- [4+1] Come back to the mansion to stay. It really isn’t too bad of a place, if a little run down, and you could use all the help you can get. He could patrol the grounds or something.
- [2] Stay here and keep the forest in check just in case anything similarly crazy happens again.

The other voter wants to be able to defend the mansion against whatever comes your way instead of worrying about the forest. It would also help to actually show off the place by getting him to escort you before you ask if he wants to stay there.
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[X] Ask him if he would like to…
-[X] Escort you back to the mansion. You really don’t want to deal with anything else today if you can help it.
-[X] Come back to the mansion to stay. It really isn’t too bad of a place, if a little run down, and you could use all the help you can get. He could patrol the grounds or something.

“Hey, thanks again for what you’ve done, but I have to ask: I don’t suppose you could go out of your way to walk with us back to our mansion? It’s kind of a lengthy ways back to the city center, and I just didn’t want to put up with anymore BS today, ya know?”

The bear swings his head in a circle once more.

“Yeah, like I said, it’s in the city, but it’s different there now. Everyone who was apparently worth a damn took off and the place was thrown into anarchy as it no longer served a purpose to the higher ups. You could easily wonder through the gates and no one would bat an eye towards you; it’s not like there are any guards anymore, for better or worse.”

He looks down at the ground for a moment in contemplation, then returns with a shake of his head. Thank gods, because you’re pretty sure that at this point you almost wouldn’t care if anyone tried to kill you at this point. You could use the rest anyway.

Not wanting to burden the beast any longer with your weight, you opt to travel alongside him across the vast open plain of blue grass, orb in hand. You aren’t even sure what you’re going to do with the thing. Put it on a mantle? Light up an insignificant portion of the gigantic main hall? Grow a tree? This thing has probably been a lot more trouble than its worth, but here you are still lugging the thing around. She might be able to find some use for it; She’s had enough time to wander around the mansion to find things to fix and improve.

After traversing the relatively flat terrain, you all find yourselves in front of one of the great gates to the city. The ironwood doors are further reinforced by the metalwork of the greatest Oni blacksmiths the city had ever seen. They stands well over three stories tall with an even larger black wooden torii gate framing the entire entrance. As pretty as it may be, these gates were built to withstand an assault of a legion from outside and from within. Built by Oni to withstand Oni, if anything happened within the city, no one was leaving without getting around the walls, as they weren’t going through the front doors.

Here they still stand, effortlessly passing the test of time, a monument to the workmanship of Youkai. Interestingly enough, all gates were sealed just prior to the Migration, most likely because the translocation spell that moved everyone and everything affected in the area. The gates prevented someone from being halfway out of the zone when the spell went off, which would have just been a mess for those left behind.

They have remained closed ever since, as no one has had the power to physically open them, nor has anyone actually figured out how they were operated in the first place. They are but one of the many oddities of the city, one that no one has had any interest in figuring out. Nowadays, people simply find holes in or under the walls, or just climb right over. You’ve seen every hole out of this place, and you know for a fact the giant next to you isn’t going to get through any of them. Getting through the gate is his only option, but how?

‘Uh, well when I was brought down here, I think I remember the cart man trying to cover our cages before we got to the city gates. He ran out of cloths and couldn’t cover a few of the cages, mine included. He didn’t seem to mind, probably because we were just a few fairies, but he got to this gate and I’m pretty sure he just knocked.’

He just knocked? You just have to knock? That has got to be the stupidest… Whatever. You remember that you don’t want to stress yourself any more today than is necessary. You knock.

Knock, knock…

‘I think it was more in the center.’

Knock, knock…

‘Um, three times?’

Knock, knock, knock…

‘And louder?’

KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK…

‘I’m sorry, I thought that’s what did it, but I guess I was mistaken…’

Actually, she might be on to something. You knew of the Oni who built these gates, or at least the tribe of them. They had drinking parties almost every other night, complete with food, sake, and music, and every one of them began with the same beat…

Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock-knock, knock, knock.
Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock-knock, knock, knock
Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock. Knock. Knock. Knock. Knock.
Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock, knock!

Nothing happens as you finish. Ok, time to just sleep on the ground. As you begin to make the move to do so, the massive gates start to creak open. You can hardly believe that worked. Of course the thing would be enchanted with some way to open it; magic is probably the only thing strong enough to physically move these enormous creations.

With the gate now wide open, your small group sets forth towards the run-down mansion that you might one day fix up and call home.

=====

<http://vocaroo.com/i/s0FxTSt92ByB>
(And it’s not over yet.)
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[X] Traverse through the city.

Your small group wanders down the neglected main streets of the city passing many shady types interested in your shiny thing who quickly scurry off upon the sight of the large black bear beside you. Good, for once things are going how you planned them to. Well, mostly. You had come out here to seek out some source of warmth for the mansion, or at least one room of it. However, due to a number of unfortunate events, you either failed to acquire what you were trying to get, or didn’t find anything to begin with.

You guess a volatile fairy and a life giving orb will just have to suffice for now. Maybe you could get one more reward for your efforts.

Knocking open two intercity gates, you all wearily pass from the outer district, through the merchant’s district, and into the lower residential district without event. Traveling straight through the city center, just as you open the central gate of the district you see yourself staring down your destination; you all gaze upon the Palace of the Earth Spirits.

It is unlike its neighboring households, in that it is made entirely out of the dense stone from the ground itself. Almost every building in the city was carved from the ironwoods save for a select number of buildings such as this mansion and the Administrative Building itself. These buildings were commissioned by the Yama to be built out of stone as the foundation of the city and to solidify their purpose here as a part of the bridge between one life and the next.

This dark gray stone was chosen for its near indestructability, as this stone was formed under the great weight of the Hells themselves, proving to be considerably stronger than even the most well crafted ironwood or metal creations. This made it unwieldy to work with without the help of special tools provided by the Yama. Even then, after every stone building was built, not a single stone more than was required was moved or worked on, as it was too much of a hassle for even the toughest Youkai.

Here you stand before the stone mansion, once again wondering what makes it so special as to be shaped from the stone of the afterlife. At least it means that the entire building is still in once piece, with not a bit of damage having been done to any inch of its stonework over the years. It’s just a little on the dusty side right now, with furniture and various items scattered throughout the entire building, with occasional objects from former Youkai dens in a few rooms.

Standing here at the front of the mansion, you are able to appreciate what architectural craftsmanship was placed in the building, even if it probably was a nightmare to work with. Various grades of the gray stone were in the particular detailing of the buildings construction. Along the smooth walls, the darker stone was placed as a foundation up to a few feet high. After that, lighter colors were used to emphasize the lower level windowing. Then there’s a small row of carved flowers of dark gray, and finally the scrambled coloring of all grades up to the roof. Near the large double door entrance, columns reach from ground to roof as light gray spires.

Ok, so gray might not be the most exciting color in the world, but with a little lighting, maybe that could change…

Expanding out from the front of the mansion is a unique yard that previously held blue grass, various shrubs, plants, and flowers. No other residential building owns “unused” land meant solely for the purpose of attractiveness, which only adds to its mystery. Now it is only a desolate field of rock, dirt, and dead plants as the ground over which the city was built is naturally barren. Without the care of gardeners, the plants quickly went with time.

Encircling the entire estate is a simple fence made of what was called wrought iron by some passing merchants. It’s was less used to keep intruders out than it was a mark of claim. There were never any trespassers as anyone could visit it as long as they didn’t wander up to the upper levels and they didn’t step on the grass. This was the monument of the residential district, and its owners knew it.

It now lies in disrepair, but you’re going to see to its slow restoration. Of course, who’s to say no one else has other ideas for the place? You’re going to try to remedy that right now, actually.

“Well here we are. I know the place looks like a dump, but I’m planning on fixing that. Just imagine what it could look like!” you comment excitedly.

The bear shakes his head in approval.

“So, I know it might be a lot to ask but, would you mind coming here to stay? Like I said, I do plan on getting it back together, but right now it’s just me, my fairy, and a certain someone else. If you lived here, I promise you’ll have all your needs taken care of and then some. Eventually. I kinda gotta make sure my own needs are met first I guess… But right now, could you be the outside guard, making sure no one gets in without permission? It would give all of us a sense of security that we could really use while putting the place back together, ya know?”

The great bear looks down once more for a second, then looks back in the direction of the forest. You know he’s in deep thought about what to do. Finally, he turns back to you, shakes his head about wildly, then looks upon you for response.

“You’ll really do it?”

He nod.

“Awesome! Well, I guess I’ll see you in a few hours then. I’ve gotta find my person and see if She’s safe. Later then and thanks for this! You won’t regret it!” you say as he turns to make his way back to his den.

‘…?’

‘He agreed to stay, but first he has to take care of something at his den and bring back a few thing, however that works. So yeah, like I said, we’ll be seeing him again after a nice long nap.’

You make your way inside through the ironwood doors. You now stand in the great hall of the mansion. Inside, it is completely devoid of light, save for your orb which is now illuminating through much of the darkness. You can tell no light still makes to the high ceiling nor down the length of the entire hall, but it’s a start. The floor here holds a checkered pattern of dark red and black tiles with an interesting feature interspersed over them.

Stained glass panels lay evenly spaced across the entire hall’s floor, each of them depicting that of a black feathered creature spreading its wings. It’s most likely a hell raven, considering their previous abundance before the Migration. They weren’t taken with it but instead probably went into a sort of prolonged hibernation not unlike how the black bear had done. The oddity of this glass is that no one can make out its pattern without it being lit from underneath; right now, they appear as large black glass panes. You only know of their image as you had once roamed these halls before everything changed.

The walls and columns mimic the pattern of the outside walls, while doors and passages are set between the columns that go out to the various wings of the mansion. At the very end of the grand hall are stairs that lead to the two upper levels, including out to the balcony that over looks the courtyard.

Even though you’ve already traveled through the different floors and all the twisting passages to clear them of Youkai, you still loath the idea of traversing this maze of a house. Still, you have to start somewhere if you plan on finding Her. You just have to remember that if you check one place, She might end up wandering somewhere else.

Split up?
[ ] No, you don’t want to have to find both Her and your fairy.
[ ] Sure, you should be able to not get your fairy lost, right?

(In a specified order) Search for her in…
[ ] Her designated bedroom.
[ ] Your designated room.
[ ] The east wing.
[ ] The west wing.
[ ] The courtyard.
[X] No, you don’t want to have to find both Her and your fairy.

(In a specified order) Search for her in…
[1] Her designated bedroom.
[2] The courtyard.
[3] The east wing.
[4] The west wing.
[5] Your designated room.
[X] No, you don’t want to have to find both Her and your fairy.
[1] Her designated bedroom.
[2] The courtyard.
[3] The east wing.
[4] The west wing.
[5] Your designated room.
[x] No, you don’t want to have to find both Her and your fairy.
[1] Her designated bedroom.
[2] The courtyard.
[3] The west wing.
[4] The east wing.
[5] Your designated room.
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12540
[X] No, you don’t want to have to find both Her and your fairy.
[X] Her designated bedroom.
[X] The courtyard.
[X] The east wing.
[X] The west wing.
[X] Your designated room.

Finally, your day is almost over. All you have to do is find Her and the three of you can all settle in for the day. That’s probably going to be easier said than done. You almost dread the notion of scouring the entire mansion for one person, but you figure it must be done. You’re going to check Her room first, but you can almost guarantee yourself that She won’t be in there. Still, it doesn’t hurt to look and besides, as it’s also the room you use as a reference point to all other parts of the mansion.

You make your way down the length of the enormous hall, passing by numerous side passages and various doorways that lead off into countless side rooms and twisting halls, hopefully all of which now vacant of their previous occupants. You shudder at the thought of anything still wanting to remain in these halls after how you and Her evicted everyone out the way you both did. You figure it’s possible someone’s still here, just not probable.

At the end of the lengthy hall is a large set of stairs that lead up towards the second floor halls and the balcony that overlooks the courtyard. Her room is on the third floor, which is a problem as no simple or obvious pass leads up there from the lower floors. For whatever reason, the previous owners of this place decided to keep their lives super secretive by not allowing plebeians the ability to even easily get up there. You’ve had time to actually find the routes up there, but you still find your own route the most expeditious one.

You head up the stairs and right out the broken doors onto the balcony. The balcony encircles the entirety of the second floor that oversees the courtyard, with numerous doorways leading back inside. Because of this, it is from here that you can quickly make your way to any part of the mansion by entering one of the doors up here, or dropping down and wandering the first floor. This is also where you can get to the third floor.

You lean over the stone railing, look up, and see the opening of one of the few windows on the third floor. Weighing the orb you still carry with you and knowing it’s survived worse, you lob it straight up over your head and through the window. You hear it land with an audible THUD onto the stone flooring and roll into some corner. Right, your turn.

‘Hold on, this is going to be a bit crazy.’

You feel the pull of your hair as the fairy tenses up, ready for whatever you’re about to do. You take a few steps back to the edge of the stairs, ready yourself, and take off in a full sprint towards the balcony rails. Before colliding with them, you take a great leap to jump on top of it for another hop, but grab one of the support columns that are spaced around the balcony before you completely clear the rail. Your momentum allows you to spin yourself around back towards the balcony and grab at the jutting stone of the windowsill. You effortlessly pull yourself up and into what is to be Her room.

‘Whoa, get me off this crazy thing…’

You pluck the dizzy fairy form your head and place her onto the ground so she may recover. She spins around once then fall over onto her back to stare up at the ceiling for a few minutes. You did warn her…

Now up here, you glance around the room. This was once meant to be a master bedroom and study, but it now sits in derelict condition. Piles of wood cover what was once a large mattress while broken bookshelves lie in heaps over their ruined contents. Parts of a desk sit across from the bed with illegible papers scattered throughout the entire room. At the end of the room are the double doors to the rest of the third floor, flanked by two large flaky paintings of unknown and impossible vistas. Opposite the doors is a large fireplace long since lit, with two once sealed windows on either side of it.

You stand facing into the room with the fireplace to your left and a window to your back. You walk over beside the bed to recover your orb and return the room to the way it was when you first found it. Yeah, She hasn’t been up here since you both first found the place, which was before you even left. You could have sworn you told Her how to get up here! You told Her it was down the second floor hall, then to the left, up the second set of stairs to the right, all the way down to the third to last door on the right, then through the right door, and finally up the tiny set of stairs behind the other door! Simple!

Frustration aside, take a moment to decide how to go about finding Her. Yeah, that’ll work. You finally decide to store your orb here where you almost know no one will find it. First you wrap it up in what cloth remains from the tattered blankets from the bed, then you place it on top of the fireplace’s mantle. There, you can finally stop carrying that pain-in-your-ass around. So much more trouble than its worth…

Now on to getting around. The best way to get around this place requires agile which is much simpler to accomplish now that you aren’t babysitting the orb. You shift into your smaller, swifter form. You contemplate the ability to call out to Her, but there’s the off chance something may have wandered in by now and you wouldn’t want to alert it.

Turning around to head out the window, you come face to face with your now standing fairy. She’s still smaller than you, but barely. She appears much more defined up close. You can notice how perfect her hair and skin are, and how they irradiate a faint white glow about them. Past these small features, her wings are what mesmerize you. At a glance, they seem simple in shape and design, as they are a twin set of tiny pointed extensions and nothing more. At this distance however, you can see that they are thin, delicate things that hold an almost crystalline appearance as they shimmer in the weak twilight of the still dimmed crystals in the sky. In all, she is very calming to the eye.

She stares at you for a long minute, registering what she is seeing.

‘By the gods, you’re ADORABLE!’ she thinks while letting out an audible squeal of delight, confirming the continuity of the link. Right, you haven’t shown her your natural form yet as you’ve had to carry around the shiny thing all day since you found her. She runs up to you to hug your neck and feel your silky black fur. Sitting down, you allow her study you and your fluff. She eventually finds interest in your red tipped twin tails, so you give them a little glow to amuse her.

‘Wow, I didn’t know you were… well, an actual cat! That is so cool! I mean, I’ve read about animal Youkai and how they can shift, but I didn’t know you could do it too. I mean, I guess you couldn’t do it while hanging on to that orb, but still, wow! And you’re so soft! How do you keep your fur so clean? And where do your clothes go? And do you still have all your senses, or are they better or something?’ she asks, the researcher in her coming out.

‘Well, it’s a cat thing, I’ll still have my clothes when I change back, and my senses are still the same as ever. I am a bit more capable in getting around like this though, which is why we’re going to be running around like this. Um, I can tell you more later, but first we really should get going, so hop on.’

‘Ah, right, sorry… Wait, you said I can get on? Awesome!’ she lets out, the excitement in her overflowing. You’ve never thought of yourself as someone’s pet, but the idea of your existence making someone even a little happy warms you on the inside.

‘Just remember: hang on!’ you tell her as you leap out the window. You land on all fours on the ground, handling the impact just fine, but your companion lets out a squeak. ‘You ok?’

‘Yeah, that was just a bit of a surprise is all. I guess you’ll be doing that a lot, so I’ll get use to it.’

‘Well, that was the worst of it really, falling two stories. We’re going to be going fast though, so get ready,’ you warn as you take off in a sprint to do a lap around the large ironwood that stands towering over the courtyard. She’s not sleeping around the tree or anywhere else as far as you can tell, so you dash off towards the open doors of the eastern wing of the mansion.

The great hall at the mansion’s entrance, the courtyard, and the master ballroom at the building’s rear separate the mansion into the two wings, east and west. Across the entire first floor are servant’s quarters, guestrooms, and storerooms. Their differences lie on the second floor. The eastern wing was reserved as middleclass living space, to include bedrooms, a dining room, studies, and offices, while the west wing had rooms for recreational purposes. One room had hand crafted and imported musical instruments, one allowed you to craft with whatever material you wished to work with, and another was a gallery that allowed you to show off your creations to be viewed and sold to other residents of the city. There was even an entirely empty room where you could do whatever you wanted to with it, assuming you properly reserved it.

Truly, this was the place to reside if you where someone with a name in this city. This mansion had its own culture which widely differed from the culture of the city. No other residence allowed you the space or ability to do what you were able to accomplish if you lived here. Once the city grew, a person couldn’t just start metalworking in front of their little hovel; they had to go down to the merchant’s district to some public crafts building if they wanted to work within the city, and even then they were limited to the rules of the city. In this mansion, though, you were free to do as you pleased. Hell, this place had its own guard to ensure the city guard didn’t ever have to inspect inside the mansion. This allowed its residents to reside outside city limitations, as the guard were their very own people.

This place was a private utopia of arts for those that managed to find their way in here, and that’s not even mentioning whatever happened on the top floor. You don’t know how they did it, but the keepers of this place kept the secret of the third floor covered up until the very end. Even after scouring it’s rooms, you still have no idea what went on up there. Perhaps you’ll never know; perhaps you’ll stumble upon it when the time is right. For now though, you’ll just worry about trying to find Her.

Even though this place is huge and you’re a cat, you still make quick work of both wings. Thankfully, all the doors were still open from your first pass through the place; it was Her idea on how to keep track of where you both had already been. After what must have been almost an hour of looking, you find yourself back at the bottom of those grand stairs at the end of the hall. You’ve searched high and low with the help of your fey, and now you find yourself with only two locations left to check: your room and the ballroom.

You room is quick and easy to reach from here, as it is in the alcove right under these very stairs. It’s not so much an actual room as it is an open space you found through a hole under the stairs. It’s large enough that She could fit though it with ease, She hadn’t gone in when you showed it to Her the first time. It’s possible she decided to do so now, but you doubt it. Making your way inside, you find everything as you left it; a bowl of water and a small store of dried meat is in one corner while very inviting matting sits in the other. You figured she wouldn’t be here, but again, it was worth a shot.

So far, every place you’ve been had been otherwise completely untouched from the last time you had been there. The only place left is the ballroom, in all its run down glory. If She’s not there then… You’ll just have to keep looking, you guess. She is your bridge to a better life, after all.

You leave your little humble hole in the wall to return to and cut across the courtyard to the ballroom. As you reach the top of the stair, however, something catches your eye. Out the doors to the balcony, you see faint lights of varying color move across the large tree and walls of the courtyard. Spirits, and not the friendly kind either.

You lay low, your fairy following suit as she flattens herself on your back. Inching your way over the balcony to the rails, you suspect someone had either led or released them here. With the entire courtyard in view, you attribute the colorful lighting to the numerous vengeful spirits that now inhabit the yard, yet no culprit to be found. They might be wandering the mansion now. Before making a move, you couldn’t help but notice the lack of blue flamed spirits. Every other type is accounted for except…

Looking up, you see the haunting blue glow emitting from Her room. Hastily shifting back, you make sure your fairy is safe atop your head and make your jump up top, fireball at the ready. The room is filled with blue spirits, all completely docile in residing here. Looking upon the fireplace where your placed your orb, you see a cluster of them hovering around it. Ah, they must have been attracted to it just as the numerous masses before them were attracted to that storehouse.

Dismissing the fire, you look out over the yard. What the… From this angle, just behind a few large dead hedges seems to be the source of this beings; a red hatch lies open while spirits slowly disperse from it. Well there’s something you missed on the first pass through this place… and second pass too, you guess.

Jumping down once more, you cautiously approach the open hatch, weary of the spirits floating from it. None of them even so much as bats a hollow eye your direction. You figured you knew why the blue spirits weren’t aggressive, as they were around something they desired, but why are the rest of them acting so calm? Unless…

You check around the hatch and see the sign: “HOBF ACCESS HATCH. DO NOT ENTER. ENTRY REQUIRES TURN WHEEL KEY.” Your body goes cold. This goes directly to the Hell of Blazing Fires. What the hell is an access hole to the Blazing Fires doing here?!

‘Where does that hole go? Why are the scary spirits coming from it?’

Remembering yourself, you regain your composure for the sake of the fairy. ‘That would be a path to one of the torments of Hell; the Hell of Blazing Fires, to be specific. You see, when souls and vengeful spirits are sent here, in the end, many of them have to serve sentences in places of torment, such as the one down there. These sentences are usually for centuries or millennia, but here this is, one of the ways into one of the Hells, wide open letting those tormented spirits wander straight out. Thankfully, they’re in a state of complacence as they’re still use to the monotony of torment, so what senses they have are dulled. But for how long? We have to figure this out.’

Obviously you could just close the hatch and deal with the spirits, but you know deep within you that She now lies below you, something possessing her to venture forth into hellish unknown. You have to go in there. You make your move towards the hatch.

‘Are you really going in there? I mean, what if the spirits do something to you? I don’t think they can do anymore to me, but I’m scared for you right now…’ she admits, the last past turning into the equivalent of a quiet whisper.

‘Don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine. I just hope the one we’re after is ok too.’

You see the ladder into the glowing depths, take a hold of it, and begin your decent.

‘Um, I know this might sound selfish because you did it for me, but is she really worth it? I mean, saving me seemed relatively trivial compared to descending into a literal hell for someone else. Who is she?’

You keep yourself as close to the ladder as you can physically bring yourself to allow the escaping spirits room to pass you. You don’t want to imagine scraping against one of them the wrong way. You let out a long drawn sigh, coming to terms with your own selfishness. It’s going to be a long way down.

‘She’s… nobody, really. I mean, She’s special in Her own way… I don’t know what I mean. You see, I’ve always had this idea, this dream, that one day life would be normal here in the Underworld once more. That the city would be bustling with life, travelers would come and go, that the cavern would be lit up again, that my friends would return… Long story short, I wanted the impossible to happen, so I set out to achieve it.

‘I wanted to start simple by getting a bunch of Youkai together in a nice spacious place, such as Chireiden, where we could all work together to form a community. Then I had hope that it would expand and accept others who found interest in it, until other buildings would be reclaimed, and more Youkai would work together, and so on until almost the whole city was reclaimed as a Youkai society once more.

‘Of course, I planned too much too fast. I managed to bring my group of friends together in the mansion, and we put had the place in some amount of working order. Then I allowed them to bring in others to the group. A few of them were ok, we got along, but many of them were extremely shady. One was so shady as to show off his dark side as he allowed countless aggressive Youkai into the mansion. They wrecked the place, and drove off me and my group of friends, but not before barging in to greet a few of us with some well placed arrows…’

You look down, then up, and realize you can’t see the top or bottom.

‘I hid, right under the stairs for years. Of my friends, one stayed behind while the others fed. They called us fools, but in my heart I thought one day I could accomplish my goal with my friend beside me for support. My friend brought up the idea of leaving a few times, but I wouldn’t entertain her. I haven’t seen her in a while now, so maybe she too has fled.

‘Anyway, I traveled to the surface and found a Youkai who was scared and alone who said they wanted sanctuary from the surface, even if it meant going underground. I obliged, but while traveling back down, I realized that She was the key to everything in my life. You see, She’s a mindreader. Deep down, normal Youkai fear mindreaders, but animals would adore her. She would be able to allow me to create a collective of animals, normal and Youkai alike, to all live as one large community. While we lived our lives within the mansion walls, She would keep other nosey Youkai in check.

‘I guess you could say She’s the means to an end. My oh-so-selfish end…’

Still descending, you close your eyes in a moment of thought to get yourself together. Is that really the only reason you’re going after Her? For your own purpose? What about Her own safety? What about Her own life? What about Her sister?

After you’re through, you’re going to have a long chat with Her.

=====

After a few minutes, you finally reach the bottom of the ladder onto a viewing platform that overlooks the Blazing Fires in time to witness the sight.

There She stands at the end of the platform, swarmed by an innumerable amount of spirits that fly about Her, but have yet dared to possess Her. Before Her, a gigantic spirit of red flame stares Her down. Neither make a move. You see She still holds the flame you had given Her.

“What the...” you let slip.

She turns to see you. In her calm, steady voice, she says, “Rin! I was wondering when you would get back. I might have got myself into a staring contest with Mr. Wisp here. Now that you’re here, though, I think I’ve got this. I need you to distract it first, so… Tag, you’re in.”

“What are you talking about,” you yell at Her, completely confused.

“I’m saying don’t worry about me. And tell your little friend I said hi. For now, see you on the other side!” she says with a smile as she jumps over the edge. You watch helplessly as she flings herself to her doom.

“SATORI!”

It is but a moment later when you hear her.

‘She said to just do what you usually do.’

What you normally do, huh? Is that what She wanted? Fine, that’s what you’ll give Her.

You direct all your rage towards the giant spirit, knowing that this will probably be the end of you too.

You still plan on having that chat with Satori. You might even get out your private stash of tea leaves.

“Rekindling of Dead Ashes” END

How do you want this to end?
[ ] Fiery End
[ ] Fairy End
[ ] Physical End
[ ] Cat End
[ ] Shattered End

(This story will not continue, but this vote will be carried out in due time. You may not be around to witness it, but it will come to pass at another time, in another place.)
File 138587310578.png - (1.12MB, 900x1200, i-found-this-image-at-the-last-second.png) [iqdb]
12541
And with this, I'm officially bringing this story to an end. A rushed end? Probably, but I believe I've achieved what I wanted out of writing this and completing the challenge.

So, any comments, questions, or complaints? If you couldn't tell, this is meant to be a side story to a yet-to-be-started main story, so I might not be able to tell you much considering I do plan on starting the main story under a lot less time pressure at some point in the near future. It will still be /underground/, but I need to finish off my schooling and such before I consider anything more about it.

Stats for those who care:
~35586 words (14414 words short of the normal 50K challenge).
30 posts over 30 days, all in November.
~80 pages in Word at 11pt.

Please vote in this final vote, as it will matter eventually, just not here in this thread. Maybe you'll be around to see it come to fruition?
[X] Fiery End
Hope to read the main story.
[z] Fairy End
[x] Fiery End

Given a choice... burn shit.
[x] Fiery End
Time to rekindle those ashes.

>>12541
I am saddened that this is the end, but i look towards the main adventure.
Voting on an end, really. I... dont really know how to feel about this.
>>12568
It's not really an end, per se. More like what's going to happen later when I eventually write the main story. This isn't the very end, just the end of a small part of the whole.

I do encourage those still around to vote in this and to ask about anything they were wondering. The vote will remain open until the time comes for it to pass. I'll say when.
[c] Fiery End.

Can't wait for the main story.
>>12584
How about explaining what the options actually mean
>>12590
But that would take away from the mystery.

Seriously though, they're more general ideas on how you want Rin to react to what's happing here at the end. The idea is for you to deduce what each could mean in terms of what Rin might do. For example, Shattered End may mean that Rin just loses it and mentally breaks from the weight of everything that's happened to her today or such. Honestly though, while you may ponder on their meanings, I've left myself a much more flexible meaning behind each choice. While they have their basic ideas, I can modify how each choice can be exicuted based on how the main story will go up to this point.

In short, this is a vote meant for you to pick what you want Rin's final controllable action to be before the story merges with what's to come. You won't see the result here because as I've said, that's a story for another time. If you insist however, I can post my general ideas behind each vote.

Also, I just found out this my phone doesn't take kindly to posting on this site, so I'm not using my trip.
[x] Bear End.

[x] Cat End

This is an excellent read. I enjoyed it rather thoroughly, especially the encounter with that bear.

Speaking of,
have you seen my bear Tibbers?
[X] Fairy End
For anyone who happens to come by:

While it has been over a year now, I am definitely still here, lurking as much as the next reader. I find it interesting that this story has been labeled as "complete" in the Story List, as I know this story does not deserve it. This was all just my own proof-of-concept for myself that was quite a success. Anyone who reads this can easily tell it was rushed, and with just cause. It was for the 2013 NaNoWriMo THP challenge after all.

I digress however as I am here to say that this story will have a rewrite and a continuation, and that they have both been in the works for quite some time. Do note that this story’s vote is still open by my own terms, and, most importantly, that it will have an effect on my future story, whenever it is I post it. I do advise any future voters to sage their votes, as this story has long left the front page and newer stories deserve the attention. Finally, I’ll probably post some /shorts/ before diving in and posting my rewrite.

Of course, as with any story on this site, my words mean nothing unless I actually post them. It may be the end of this month or the end of this year, but I do plan on starting at some point in time.
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