The sun didn’t always bother you. You were a farmer, you spent most of your time outdoors, tending to the livestock. That changed though, when you migrated to Atölcog. There were no farm animals there, so you had no real reason to be aboveground. You were drafted into the military, and spent most of your time in the barracks, training with your fellow dwarves. Of course, the marksdwarves were the ones who got deployed whenever a threat showed up, so they were the ones who went out into the sun. Your squad always stayed inside. Your condition hasn’t progressed to severe nausea, thankfully. You can at least handle being outside, but still.
The sun is bright, and it bothers you.
What also bothers you is Sanae’s stupid questions.
“I don’t suppose you can fly, can you?”
“Do I look like I have wings?”
“I’ll take that as a no.” She pulls out a stick with a piece of paper attached to it, holding it up for all to see. “Let me try something real quick.”
With no warning, the wind kicks up around you, swirling around like a miniature tornado. Your beard whips around in the maelstrom, and the wind cuts into your eyes, making them water. You cover your face, trying to protect yourself, as the wind works its way underneath you. For a time, nothing happens. Then suddenly, you feel yourself lose your stance on the ground, lifting into the air a fraction of an inch, before you suddenly drop back down, the wind dying around you.
“Wow…” Sanae pants, out of breath, “You’re heavy.”
You glare at her from behind your arms, before finally lowering them. You’re still glaring at her.
“Er… right. So flying is out. I guess we’re walking.” She sheepishly scratches the back of her head, before turning around. “The Hakurei Shrine should be in this direction.”
The two of you set off, walking in silence. Sanae is too embarrassed with her behavior to start a conversation, and you’re too upset now, between the sun and her antics to start one either. At least the weather isn’t inclement. You don’t know how much grumbling you would be doing if it was raining.
Time passes as you walk, the sun slowly making its way across the sky. The two of you started at the foothills of a mountain, before traversing through an open plain, until you started working your way through a forest. It was during the walk through the forest when it happened.
Everything went black.
You let out a noise of surprise, looking around. It is pitch dark. You cannot see anything. It’s certainly a relief from the beating sun, but this is still rather worrying. You extend your right hand forward, hoping to see it in the darkness, but you can’t.
And then you feel something.
Your hand is in a gauntlet, so it is rather hard to feel anything other than the inside of said gauntlet. However, you can suddenly feel a subtle pressure being applied to your right hand, on all sides. Worried, you raise your left hand now, and feel around in the darkness. Something is wrapped around your right hand, something round, and hard. If you had to guess, you would say that some creature is attempting to bite you through the steel gauntlet.
You certainly can’t flee in this oppressive darkness, and you don’t quite trust yourself to be able to fight in it either. That leaves you with but one option: trying to reason with whatever is biting you.
“Let go a’ me!” You cry, trying to push the creature off your hand, but it’s got a firm grip with its teeth.
“Arrrr?” It responds, but it sounds an awful lot like a girl. A young girl. Now that’s just confusing and a bit distressing. You suppose that it only sounds like a girl as some kind of defensive measure, a way to ingratiate itself to other creatures. You’re pretty sure that’s a thing.
“Yeh heard me! Let go, I’m covered in metal anyway! Yeh won’t get anythin’ tasty this way!”
“Ahhh arrr ahhh.” It occurs to you that this creature can’t speak, if it even can speak at all, with your hand in its mouth. It must have a rather large mouth though, if it can fit your entire hand, gauntlet and all, inside it.
And then you hear Sanae’s voice calling for you. “Dwarf? Dwarf, where are you!?” Damn girl couldn’t even remember your name.
“I’m over here, lass!” Wherever here is right now.
You hear her footsteps drawing closer, before coming to a sudden stop. “I’m coming, I’m coming- oh. Uh… are you in there, dwarf?”
“Mah name is Datan, and I dunno where ‘there’ is! Everythin’s gone dark!”
“You’re in there… are you okay?”
“I’m fine, but somethin’s trying to bite me hand!”
“That’s definitely Rumia. Hold on, I’ll get you out of there! Time for the miracle of light!” What follows is the distinct sound of Sanae chanting in a language unfamiliar to you. Given her words, you guess that she’s about to banish this darkness that has been cast over you. You shut your eyes in preparation for the light.
Time passes as Sanae continues chanting. All the while that creature keeps biting down on your gauntlet, trying to break through it with little success. Finally, Sanae’s chanting comes to an end, and a bright light assaults you through your eyelids. You hear a girlish scream as the pressure on your hand lessens considerably. You sharply pull your hand away from the creature, and the pressure vanishes completely, followed quickly by a thump sound on the ground before you.
The light dies down, and you carefully open your eyes. You find that the darkness has been banished as well, leaving you in the light of the bothersome sun. You look, expecting to find some horrible creature before you.
You instead find a girl. A blond-haired girl in a black dress with a red ribbon in her hair. From the look of her, you’d guess her to be around eight years old, in human years. You look around, trying to spot the creature that had bit you, but only find Sanae standing a short distance off.
“Where did the creature go, and what’s this girl doing here?” You ask her.
“Uh… that girl is the ‘creature’.”
“What do yeh mean, the girl is the creature?”
“She’s a youkai, a kind of man-eating monster! She only looks like a little girl because… I actually don’t know why. A lot of youkai look like little girls, to be honest.”
That is completely ridiculous and it doesn’t surprise you in the slightest.
“Ow…” Comes a moan from in front of you. The ‘youkai’ girl has started to recover, curling into a ball at your feet. “So bright… so bright…” A ball of darkness appears around her, faint at first but steadily strengthening.
You turn back to Sanae, “Are youkai mindless monsters? Cause she seems rather like a human.”
“Not all youkai are mindless, no. Although it’s almost a borderline case with Rumia here.”
“I’m not stupid…” Rumia whines, the ball of darkness around her stopping at fairly solid but not completely pitch black.
You turn to look down at her now, as she turns slightly to look up at you. “Why did yeh try to eat me gauntlet?”
“I smelled blood…” Ah yes, you are covered in goblin blood. You suppose that would attract predators. “…What’s a gauntlet?”
You hold up your right hand, both to show her the gauntlet and to inspect it yourself. It’s covered in drool, and you can see a ring of teeth marks around it. Amazing how she managed to bite hard enough to leave indents in steel. They look superficial though, you’re sure the gauntlet will still protect you well.
You look around. Sanae is standing there, waiting for you, Rumia is in front of you, starting to stand herself up, and you’re all inside a forest as the sun is slowly working its course through the sky.
You look down at Rumia, considering her. She’s rather small, but from the way she left bite marks in your gauntlet, she has a great deal of jaw strength. An idea forms in your head, a wonderful idea.
You turn back to Sanae, “Yer sure she’s a monster?”
“A man-eatin’ monster?”
“As hard as it is to believe, she is.”
You turn back to Rumia, looking down at her.
“Why don’t yeh come with us, Rumia?”
“Eh?” The little girl replies.
“What!?” Sanae near shouts. “Are you out of your mind!?”
“Will there be food?” Rumia asks you.
“Oh, there’ll be lots of food…” You mutter, loud enough for both girls to hear you.
“…You can’t be thinking of…” Sanae starts.
“I am.” You cut her off. “Come. We’re wastin’ time here.”
Sanae lets out a small sigh, and continues walking along. You follow after her, Rumia in tow. The rest of the trip passes by without incident. The sun works its way across the sky, and by the time you arrive at a large series of steps to the shrine, the sun is nearly setting. The three of you climb the stairs, or rather, you climb the stairs, and Sanae and Rumia both float their way up, mere inches off the ground. Eventually the three of you reach the top of the steps, and reach the shrine proper.
You’re not sure what you expected, but it wasn’t this.
The shrine is built in a style you’re unfamiliar with. Slanted roofs and walls all the way around underneath them, in contrast to the flat walkways and pillars of the human temples back home. Additionally, the shrine seems to have fallen into a bit of disrepair. You can see marks on the walls, shingles are missing from the roof, and the front courtyard isn’t swept of leaves.
Sitting on the porch of the shrine, in front of a wooden box, is a black-haired girl in red and white. Sanae approaches her, waving amicably.
“Hey Reimu! Is Suika here right now?”
The girl, Reimu, looks over Sanae’s entourage, and frowns at her. “Okay, what’s going on?”
“What!” Is Sanae’s shocked response. “Nothing’s going on!”
“You come into my shrine with a bearded midget and Rumia, and you immediately ask for Suika. My gut tells me that something’s wrong here, and my gut is rarely ever wrong.”
“It’s nothing! Nothing’s wrong, I just want to talk to Suika. Is that a crime?”
“Why do you want to talk to Suika? You always make an effort to avoid her when you visit, why the interest now?”
“I need her help! With… a project!”
“A project. You need an oni to help you with a project.”
“…It’s a big project?”
Reimu just gives Sanae a flat stare, her eyes boring into Sanae. Finally, Sanae relents.
“Alright, fine. There’s an incident in the Tengu Fortress, and I need Suika’s help with it.”
“An incident? What’s going on?”
“A bunch of goblins appeared out of nowhere and suddenly conquered the tengu! We need help fighting them, so we figured an oni would be a good ally.”
“Goblins? Like the ones at the Scarlet Devil Mansion?”
“Never been there, so I can’t say.”
“Why do you need Suika’s help anyway? You can’t handle them yourself?”
“They don’t follow spell card rules! They fight for real! If I fought them, they’d kill me!”
Reimu starts a bit at Sanae’s words. “You’re serious about that?”
“I saw the fighting with my own eyes. It was to the death.”
“That’s… a severe incident.” Reimu looks over at you now, before turning back to Sanae. “So what’s with the midget?”
“He’s a dwarf, an outsider. He’s… apparently familiar with the goblins that have attacked the Tengu. I’m… trusting his judgment on matters related to this incident.”
“…I see. And Rumia?”
“…He just up and decided to bring her along with us.” Sanae leans forward and whispers something to Reimu. Reimu’s eyelids lower, and she shrugs in response.
You step forward, raising your voice for the first time since arriving here, “Excuse me ladies, I have a question.”
Reimu looks at you, “Yeah, what is it?”
“Do yeh happen to have some wood and rope here?”
The two girls stare at you like you’ve grown a second head. “What are you planning?” Sanae asks cautiously.
“I was thinkin’ of tyin’ Rumia here to a pole and swingin’ her around like a flail at the goblins.”
Now the girls stare at you like you’ve grown a third head.
“Wait, what?” Rumia turns to look at you. “I don’t want to be tied to a pole.” The other girls look relieved for a moment, but then Rumia continues, “I want to be tied to a cross.”
“What!?” Sanae cries. Reimu just buries her face in her hand.
“I wanna be like the saint that was crucified on the cross!” Rumia declares innocently. She spreads her arms wide, as if to demonstrate.
“I- You- You want to be crucified!? Do you even know what that entails!?”
“Being tied to a cross and having nails pounded through my hands?”
“Why would you want that!? It’s an execution method!”
“It sounds fun!”
“Fun. Fun! You- You…” Reimu places a hand on Sanae’s shoulder, trying to calm the poor girl down.
As for you, it seems you have a choice now.
 Stick with your original idea (Youkai Flail of Dark Devouring)  Go with Rumia’s idea (Youkai Cross of Dark Devouring)  This is dumb, get a normal weapon (Find an axe)
>Datan Darùdnish is taken by a fey mood! >Datan Darùdnish screams "I must have wood logs!" >Datan Darùdnish screams "I must have metal bars!" >Datan Darùdnish works furiously!  Go with Rumia’s idea (Youkai Cross of Dark Devouring)
>Datan Darùdnish, Axedwarf has created Ushangmetul Umomnoshtath, a youkai cross! That's Monster Cross of Dark Devourer, but yeah.
[X] Go with Rumia’s idea (Youkai Cross of Dark Devouring) -[X] Adjustment: Make it a big-ass Youkai Axe of Dark Devouring, so it's the blades of the axe serving as the cross-bars. -[X] No need for nails, rope will do.
“You’re really going to do this?” Sanae asks you, dejected.
“Of course. It’s what she wants.” You reply, set on your course of action.
“Where are you even going to get the materials for a cross, though?”
“We should have some wood we can use in the tool shed.”
“Reimu!” Sanae cries, “Don’t encourage them!”
Reimu only shrugs, and then walks off, beckoning you to follow. She leads you to a shed, just as she implied she had. She opens the door, and the first thing you see is a small, orange-haired girl lying on the floor in front of the door, passed out. Upon closer inspection, you notice the girl has a pair of horns coming out of her head.
Reimu kicks the girl, “Suika, get up. What are you even doing here.”
You lean to Sanae, whispering, “Thas Suika? She’s so small!”
Sanae whispers back, “She’s an oni, trust me. She’s incredibly strong.” You suppose you’ll take her word for it. Big things do tend to come in small packages. Dwarves are living proof of that.
The small oni eventually stirs, waking up. “Eh…? Oh, hi Reimu.”
“Suika, what are you doing in here?”
Suika looks around, realizing that she’s in a shed, and shrugs. She then pulls out some kind of purple gourd, and holds it up to her mouth like she’s drinking from it. You suppose it’s some kind of exotic waterskin.
“Anyway Suika, we need to make a cross. Mind helping out?” Reimu asks the tiny oni.
“Why are we making a cross?”
“To crucify Rumia on.”
“Why are we crucifying Rumia? Did she do something?”
“She wants to be crucified, and this dwarf here wants to wield her as a weapon, too.”
Suika looks at you now, “And why do you need a weapon?”
“To fight the goblins,” You reply, “The goblins that have overtaken the Tengu Fortress.”
“Goblins? In the Tengu Fortress? How did they manage that?”
Sanae speaks up, “They don’t fight by spell card rules! I almost lost my life trying to fight one of them! In fact, that’s why we’re here. We were hoping you’d be willing to help us destroy them before they spread throughout Gensokyo!”
Suika looks at Sanae for a moment, thinking. “You said they don’t fight by spell card rules. So… they fight fight? As in for real?”
“With swords and axes and maces and- I already said they almost killed me!”
Suika takes a sip from her purple gourd, and then speaks, “I’m in. It’s been way too long since I’ve laid a proper beatdown on someone.”
“Great,” Reimu starts, “Now would you help us make a cross already?”
“I can’t believe we’re doing this.” Sanae moans.
“You can't let yourself be trapped by common sense in Gensokyo, right?” Reimu retorts.
“Don’t say that…”
Time passes as you work on the cross. You’ve never been a crafter, or a carpenter, and none of the girls have clearly done anything like this either. Still, making a cross isn’t too hard. Just lay two large planks across each other and tie them together, right? You also pound nails into the planks where they cross each other, ensuring stability in them. You plan the swing this thing around like a weapon, and rope alone probably won’t keep it together if you do so.
Finally, you add the finishing touch: Rumia. You forego pounding nails into her hands and just tie her up by her wrists. If she gets hurt and needs medical attention, it would be a pain to get her down with nails in her hands. You also tie rope around her ankles, ensuring that her lower body doesn’t flop around when you swing the cross. You test the weight of the entire thing; it’s definitely heavier than your old axe, but you can manage.
You leave Rumia and her cross outside, leaning it against a large red gate in front of the shrine. The rest of you head inside and have some dinner. The meal is noticeably more barebones than the food you had back at the palace, and the food seems to have been spread thinly between the four of you.
What isn’t spread thinly is the alcohol, which Suika pours generously from her gourd. You take a moment to question her on how much that thing can hold.
“It’s an oni artifact,” She replies, “It carries an infinite amount of booze.”
You spend the rest of the meal a lot happier. And a lot drunker.
Another important topic is discussed during the meal, “So… it’s gotten pretty late.” Sanae begins, “I don’t know if it’s safe for me to head back to my shrine. And Datan can’t fly, so it would take hours for him to get back as well.”
“You’re asking if you can stay the night here.” Reimu states.
“You know, if we really wanted, we could head out and fight the goblins right after dinner.” Suika suggests. “I’m strong enough that I could carry Datan and his cross, easily.”
[X]Leave immediately [X]While drinking more from Suika's infinite booze bottle on the way there. our drawf hero works better the more drunk he is right? So we should get him as drunk as possible with out it affecting him too bad at least. Also since it will be night him and Rumia will be at their strongest.
You decided this only moments ago, but you have never been so sure of something before in your life. You hate flying. You never realized just how comforting it is to have the solid earth beneath you, until you were ripped away from it. Now you’re soaring through the air, your legs dangling limply, buffeted by the wind, you’re flying so fast. If you didn’t have a death grip on Rumia’s cross, you’d be chugging Suika’s booze gourd to keep yourself calm.
Speaking of, the small oni currently has her arms wrapped around your torso as she flies you through the night sky. You were a little concerned that she wouldn’t be able to maintain a good grasp on you, but she seems to be managing it just fine. You haven’t slipped even a tiny bit in her arms, and she hasn’t needed to adjust her grip either. If you weren’t so distraught from flying, you might be a bit flustered by being held by a girl so.
The Youkai Mountain, as it’s called, was in view of the shrine you departed from, so at the very least, you knew that it wouldn’t be a long flight. It rapidly grows in size as your group approaches it. It would be a bit difficult to see under the veil of night, if you didn’t have keen darkvision from living in a subterranean fortress for the better part of your life. As you approach, you can make out a structure jutting out from the mountain, a fair distance up. The Tengu Fortress, you assume, and you assumption seems to be correct, as when it appears in view, everyone adjusts their flight paths to head straight towards it.
As you draw near to the fortress, you spot something flying out of it towards you, and are stirred out of your flight-induced panic to shift to a different kind of panic.
“Arrows! They’re firin’ on us!” You cry as the projectiles make their way towards your group.
“I’ve got this!” Sanae cries as she swings her stick towards the arrows. A gale of wind kicks up, blowing the arrows entirely off-course, neutralizing their threat. Sanae maintains the wind as more arrows are fired and sub sequentially blown away.
“We need to find a way in!” Reimu cries over the wind.
“I can make a way in!” Suika replies.
“Not with that dwarf in your arms, you can’t!”
“You doubt me? Watch this!”
Suika adjusts her grip on you, shifting to a one-armed, under the shoulder hold. Your flight-panic kicks in again, especially as Suika suddenly charges straight forward at a wall, fist first. Flesh impacts stone, and the stone loses. A large hole is blown open in the wall, and Suika lands on her feet on the other side. She sets you down, and suddenly sets off.
Finally back on firm ground, you take stock of your location. You’re in a corridor, and Suika just ran down one direction at a group of goblins, and is now punching their brains out. Literally. You look down the other side of the corridor, and find more goblins, currently staring in shock. Your eyes meet for a brief moment, and you and they realize what must come next.
You charge at each other.
You swing your cross at the goblins as you approach, its large size offering you an advantage in range. The first goblin raises his shield to block your blow, only to have it ripped from his hand when Rumia bites onto its side and tear it away from him as she travels with your swing. She spits the metal object out as you bring her around for an overhead swing. The goblin can only stare in shock as Rumia comes down on his head, mouth first.
As you pull your weapon back, you find that you’re carrying the goblin as well, his head stuck inside Rumia’s. There’s a momentary shriek, cut short by a sickening crunching sound. After a moment, the goblin’s body flops down onto the ground, missing its head.
The three other goblins before stare in horror as Rumia chews up their fellow’s head, before swallowing it down. You take a step towards the remaining goblins. They shakily hold up their weapons, morale completely lost. You take another step, and swing at the closest one of them. He panics, holding up his mace-arm by reflex, and Rumia catches the arm with her mouth. You pull back on her again, but find the goblin to actually resist, trying to pull away from you and keeping the cross stuck in place for the moment.
While you are momentarily stuck, another goblin takes this opportunity to run at you, sword raised. You take one hand off your cross to defend yourself with, and bring it up to block the goblin’s overhead swing. The strike is deflected by your gauntlet, and you take the opportunity to punch the goblin in the chest. You strike with such force the goblin is propelled away from you, and collides with a wall, stunned.
You turn back to your weapon when you hear a crunch and a shriek of pain. Rumia has successfully liberated the goblin of his arm, and is now chewing away at it. The goblin, meanwhile, has a fountain of blood coming out of the stump where his arm used to be. You thrust your cross at him while he is stunned, and he falls over, too shocked to stand. You angle the cross so that the arms loom over the bleeding goblin, and then you bring it down like an executioner’s axe. The heavy arm impacts the goblin’s face, crushing his skull in one strike.
You look around for the other two goblins, and find them riddled with needles. One of them also appears to have a caved-in skull. You inspect them, and find them both to be dead.
“Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said he was brutal.” You turn around and find Reimu and Sanae standing behind you. Sanae looks a little squeamish, while Reimu seems slightly impressed. You also note that she’s holding some kind of black and white orb under her arm.
“I told you…” Sanae meekly replies, “Isn’t this messed up?”
“…I think this is gonna be the most Rumia’s ever eaten in her entire life.” Reimu flatly comments.
“Reimu!” Sanae cries.
“Well, come on. Let’s get this incident resolution underway.” Reimu starts down the corridor, and after a moment’s hesitation, Sanae follows. You can’t help but note that they’re going to opposite direction that Suika went.
 Follow Reimu and Sanae  Find Suika
I'm not even going to bother explaining what happened. Just assume a lot of shit.
“Will the two of yeh be alright on yer own?” You ask the two girls before you. You’re honestly a little unsure of leaving them by themselves, especially Sanae. But Suika running off on her own also has you a bit worried as well.
“We’ll be fine. I’ll take care of Sanae.” Reimu offers.
“I can handle myself!” Sanae cries, “I don’t need to be babysat!”
“You’re too green, Sanae.” Reimu turns to you as Sanae pouts. “I’ll keep her safe, don’t worry.”
“Very well. I’m off to look for Suika, then.” You reply.
“Someone should keep an eye on her, I agree. Mostly to keep her from breaking anything valuable.”
You nod to Reimu, and then take off down the corridor that you saw Suika take.
As you travel the hallways, you note the trail of carnage. Dead goblins, strewn all across the corridor, blood splattered everywhere. Some are missing limbs. Some are missing their heads. Some have impalement wounds. Some are just battered to a pulp. You’re pretty sure one of them had their heart ripped straight out of their chest.
You turn a corner, and note that the hallway now has doors lining it. You honestly have no idea where you are in this fortress. Living quarters, perhaps? You note that the closest door is open. You head over and peek inside the room, curious.
You find a torture chamber. Various instruments of pain are scattered throughout the room, and chained to the walls are people. Looking at them, they seem to be mostly have black or brown hair, though one of them has stark white hair, and interestingly enough, wolf ears. You take another look around the room, and note a dead goblin against the wall, directly opposite the door. You walk over to him and inspect his corpse. He has a caved in chest, and severe bruises on the back of his head. If you head to guess, he was punched straight through the open door and into the wall here, where he died. Either by impact, or by ribs piercing his heart.
You hear a grunt, and turn to look at the sound. The white-haired wolf woman seems to have roused herself, and is weakly looking at you. You can see the life slowly returning to her eyes, despite the bruises and cuts adorning her body.