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14039
I feel something winding down as soon as I move away from my companions, like a sort of tension, you could call it. Of course, I love them to death, wouldn’t even be up here without them and all that, but still. I’ve had little to no alone time since we left the underground, when before alone time was all I got. It’s a radical change, and I enjoy some peaceful isolation by myself, like this. It’s calming and feels like going back normal. The forest seems to help too: the colourful, pastel glows and lack of direct sunlight puts me in this relaxed state, like floating about underwater. Under warm water.

Not so relaxed that I forget myself, of course. I mark the (massive!) tree trunks as I go, so I don’t get lost. No knife, so I have to use my nails. Fearsome youkai claws, technically.


I wander around, more enjoying myself on a stroll than whatever excuse myself I gave myself to get out here. ‘Sides, I’m sure I’m not hurting anyone’s feelings, even if they knew I’m leaving for some alone time. I’ve seen those two and how they’re acting: back at the temple, and just how they’ve… stuck together, in various ways. It feels like the two of them are a proper group, while I’m hovering around them. Literally, too. Not that I’m against it! I mean, them. I know they were already close friends, it’s just that Parsee has clearly softened up a considerable amount lately. It’s understandable they’d get closer. They’ll be happy to have some time to themselves.

Ugh, what am I even thinking about? It’s none of my business what their relationship is and what they’re up to. I think the episode with Rinnosuke is making me think too much.


What did I say I was going to look for, again? Tinder? How stupid, it’s not even near cold enough for us to need a fire. I look around the forest, surprisingly sparse of life aside from the gigantic trees and the mysterious living light bulbs planted to them. Not even any shrubs around, just a whole lot of dead leaves. Actually, now that I take a good look — excuse me, a good listen at it, this place is way too silent for what it is. You’ve got a handful of bird calls sounding occasionally, way in the distance, and that's it. I can hardly hear them. Maybe the canopy is so high up the sound just barely reaches down here?

So I wander, thinking such pointless thoughts. It’s an enjoyable enough walk, and I find myself thinking (again!) that I wouldn’t mind living in a place like this. Perhaps carve a hole out in a tree? Wait, no. I should dream higher than that. I could build a house, I suppose?
It’s not that I dislike the underground, but there’s such a big world out here, it seems like a waste not to even try at seeing it. I wouldn’t actually leave my home permanently, obviously. Not as long as there are people with me down there who care for me. That’d be stupid.


Right about the time when I start thinking I should head back, I hear something quite different from the bird voices that have been the only sound around until now. It’s not much louder, just above what I think would be audible to a human. Nothing else makes a sound in the forest while the… what is that, anyway?
It’s an airy sort of sound, staccato and slow, old timey, but not bad to listen to, considering. I can tell what this is, partially: I’ve had the pleasure to witness an oni musical performance once, and I remember this. It’s some sort of a string instrument, and it’s coming directly from above.
I look straight up at the interminable tree trunks. Can’t even see the top.
I can’t not investigate this, can I?


Up, up, up, while listening to the melody. It is a melody, at that, and not random sounds. Whoever is playing is no master of their craft: there are pauses, sometimes wrong notes, but the music keeps going regardless. The soft glow of the forest may be making my judgment duller than it might have been, but I decide I like this. It’s not like I get to hear music often, either, but this fits.
I close my eyes when a ray of sunlight strikes me square in the face, after what seems like way too much time flying upwards. There, finally some branches, the sky and… people?
Well, yes, people. How would there be music without people? Silly me. These are some very short people, though.

Oh.
Oh dear, these aren’t people. They’re fairies.


Dealing with fairies is difficult at the best of times and impossible otherwise, for a host of reasons. But the music is coming from the middle of the small group of fairies — and whoever this is must be doing something right, because I’ve never seen so many of the fidgeting little things together and this quiet. I want to check it out.

These look different from underground fairies, to no great surprise on my part. They’re less deathly pale, more lively, have different wings and some of them inexplicably carry flowers their own size, but otherwise, they’re the same doll-sized, nervous fledglings in pretty dresses you’d get everywhere in Gensokyo. The difference is that these are remarkably well-behaved, sitting neatly in their branches.
I float slowly, sloooowly up among them, knowing they’ll panic and scatter in half a second if they notice me.

Ah, and success. It’s not too hard, since they’re so focused. I settle down in my bucket without anyone noticing and have my first good look at our musician, and she’s a… what? Cute, for one. Of course. Not human, you can tell from the wings. Not a fairy, I don’t think they’d be capable of playing music. Also, too big to be a fairy: she’s about me-sized. Some kind of youkai?
She has a dainty side-ponytail thing going on, tied with a childish yellow ribbon (not that I can judge childish), and that same plain but pretty dress that fairies are born with. I think they’re born with it. I’ve never seen a fairy in any other clothing or being un-cute, even when they’re in one of their occasional collective frenzies. I think it’s a part of the job description, somehow. Being cute, that is; the collective frenzy is just a thing they do. Fairies being fairies.
The youkai(?) has in her hands a… a thing. Like a biwa, but thinner and a baby. A baby biwa, smaller, with less strings. She’s hunched over it, brows knitted, lip tucked under her teeth and fringe behind her ears. Clearly trying very, very hard at it. Poor thing visibly winces every time she makes a mistake, which is often. The audience doesn’t seem to notice or mind.

The song eventually winds down sort of randomly, without a proper ending, but still nobody seems bothered. In fact, the audience seems ecstatic: they begin clapping and chattering, as fairies do. Miss musician seems as happy as the rest of them, apparently forgetting all about her mistakes immediately, beaming and bowing.


Which has, of course, the expected outcome. Within moments they notice me and the typical panic quickly spreads, with fairies zipping away at far greater speed you’d think they’re capable of with those tiny wings. They’re just fairies, so I don’t feel too bad about scaring them.
My target along stays, although she also looks like she might bolt off at any second, not unlike a fairy. Maybe she is a fairy? I’ve heard of great fairies, but I imagined something more grandiose, like a giant, crowned fairy in a resplendent dress, commanding armies of the little things. Are there medium fairies?

The fairy-like being opens her mouth, but no sound comes out. She’s sort of shaking, too. In fear, if I had to guess.
I should do something about this situation before she runs off.

[ ] Grab ‘er!
[ ] Soothe her somehow.
[ ] Attempt communication.

____

Turns out it was already on autosage. Anyway, here. You don't have to revote, one guy who did it last thread.

In all likelihood, this is our last thread.
Expand all images
Oh, I almost forgot.
Previous thread:
>>13691
[x] Soothe her somehow.

Calm now, hugs later.
[x] Soothe her somehow.
[c] Soothe her somehow.
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14052
The bite-sized fairy trembles, trying to hide herself behind the, er, musical instrument. Aw, now that just makes me feel bad even though I haven’t done anything. Have I?
I look around for help, fully knowing there’s nothing up here but branches and leaves. I’ll have to play fairy diplomacy, then. Damn it, I never was good with the little buggers. Even back in the home, my rare encounter with the comparatively quiet purple-clad underground fairies ended in disaster. Panic, bursts of danmaku, that sort of thing; but this one is clearly different. For one, she hasn’t run away yet, and I’ve been standing here for a while now.

Taking great care to make no sudden movements, I reach to my old faithful notebook and pry it from under my butt where it usually stays. It’s seriously battle-scarred by now — I try to take reasonable care of it, but I don’t seem to be very good. Constant travel in a cramped bucket with a bunch of luggage isn’t conducive to keeping stuff intact, adding to the fact that I’m not a tidy person to begin with. I try, but you know how it is.
Anyhow, to calm her down. I’m no expert, but since she is what she is, simple is probably best. Slowly, carefully, I spell out a single word. The paper is worn and my handwriting isn’t about to win any awards, but it should be readable.

“FRIENDS?”


She looks at the notebook, then back to me. An attempt to communicate is enough to calm her down a tad — I think.
“I–,” she stutters out, tentatively. Yes? She’s not panicking, so that’s a good sign.
“I… I can’t read.”

Oh, right. Of course she can’t.
This presents a significant problem to our communication, doesn’t it?

Plan B. I’ll draw… not, not a heart, that’d be excessive. Two smiling faces, side by side. Or as close to that as I can make it with my nonexistent drawing skills.
I show it to her again and she pauses. Odd insect-like wings flutter, she gets an intense look of concentration. I can practically see the miniature gears turning in her head.
“You’re not gonna shoot me?”

I shake my head no, wondering why that’d be the first assumption you’d go to. The life of a fairy must be tough.
The change is instant — the trembling fear is gone within a second, she flutters her wings a whole bunch and beams. Those are some expressive wings.
“Did you like my music? I practiced hard! But everyone else left before they could tell me what they thought…” She swings her legs, rather precariously swinging along with them the entire branch she’s sitting on. “Also, who are you?

I’m impressed by the speed with which she changes over, but i’m not about to complain. I put pencil to paper, to try and respond, but draw a complete blank. How are we supposed to communicate? I can’t exactly play charades with everything I want to say. Not practically. I’ll have to try the alternative way, then.

I float over slowly and settle down next to the fairy, who, surprisingly, doesn’t move to flee at all. I must’ve already registered as fully harmless in her head. Maybe I look the part?


Gingerly — in the usual way — I lean over to try and talk. Whisper, actually. But before I can get a single sound out —
I feel a hand on my hair.

I freeze. I can feel the seed of panic sprout, but quickly curb it before anything takes root. I’ve had practice lately, besides, this fairy hardly feels threatening. I don’t get any less nervous, but I manage not to freak out or bolt away while she fiddles with my hair.
She pats my head… reassuringly? Gently? Something like that, suddenly radiating an aura of motherliness that’s entirely unfitting on her image. But there it is, defiantly.
“There, there.”
Wasn’t I supposed to be the one soothing her, just a moment ago?
She rubs my head, messes with my hair ties and even strokes my ears (and I momentarily shake her off at that point. Not my ears!).

But it is relaxing, I think. So I let her at it for a few moments.

Okay.
I don’t mind not talking, if it’s like this.

____


Hm.

I don’t know what I was expecting to happen.

I’m now heading back to my friends, except I have a newly acquired fairy following me around and chattering occasionally. After our fruitless half-attempt at communication, she must’ve decided she likes me. This particular fairy turns out to be a very sociable one: she speaks the whole time. Not so much a continuous train of thought as much as isolated statements: as far as I can tell, she says essentially whatever comes to her mind, interspersed by random humming and giggling. At least she’s happy, I suppose. I don’t mind, either way: her voice is fairy-like: melodic by nature, high but not grating, child-like. Pleasant to listen to, even when it’s sounding out completely asinine non-thoughts such as “I wonder how far Autumn is? I love Autumn,” or “do the trees look taller today?

I learn her name, which is actually a title. It confirms my suspicions.
“Daiyousei, as in great fairy!” She strikes a pose and proclaims, grinning more widely than the statement calls for. “Which I am.” Proudly, too. I just nod.

“You don’t look like you’re from the forest,” she says. Very astute. “People from outside don’t wander this far in often, except…” she trails off. Her voice gets as solemn as she can make herself sound. “If they headed for the Sanzu River.”

Oh.
I shake my head. That’s not me, no. Not right now.
“But you don’t look like that sort. So, you must be here to visit Marisa.”

!
“So I’m right!” She makes happy noises, flying a circle around me. I was about to surprised, but thinking about it for a moment, there can’t be much for a sane person to do in this place. Even beyond the forest, the only place of note is a spot haunted by ghosts and full of poisonous flowers, if I recall my map correctly. I do note that she says Marisa, and not the other magician. I hope this means I made the right choice.

She must’ve picked up on my momentary surprise, however, because she smiles and goes on. “Sometimes even villagers go that way, with hunters carrying spears and such. I think she set up a shop, but I’m not so sure. We don’t like to get too close to her house.”

It doesn’t take much thought to figure out why people would have use for a talented magician for hire. Hell, I can think of more than a few occasions when I would’ve been saved by one, and I’m a youkai.


“There she is!”
Finally, here we are. I feel daiyousei maneuver behind me instantly, hiding behind my bucket.

“Picked up a stray, did you?” Parsee bares her teeth in one of her trademark toothy grins. Feels like it’s been a while since I’ve seen it.
Yamame slaps her shoulder lightly. “Parsee, play nice.”

Daiyousei smiles awkwardly, waves, and that’s pretty much the extent of their interaction. I’m surprised the fairy doesn’t warm up to them like she did to me — she quiets down completely, just following us along. Following me along, to be precise, because she keeps a healthy distance from everyone else. Presumably, she’s not as comfortable chattering mindlessly with big, intimidating youkai trudging nearby. Especially Parsee.

But she leaves too, as soon as our target comes into view, after muttering her goodbyes. I wouldn’t mind it if she stayed, but if she doesn’t want to, there’s nothing I can do.


Marisa’s house, then, as the wristwatch informs me. Decisively witchy: tucked away between two of those tree trunks, each also as wide as a house itself. Stone and wood, paints faded and peeling, but which clearly used to be bright and clear; plants growing up the walls and around the house, like a haphazard garden of randomly thrown seeds. Which is quite strange, seeing as the sun doesn’t even reach down here, and the forest has nothing else growing this close to the ground. Magic, I’ll assume.
It’s certainly got enough space to house more than a little magical paraphernalia, blocky, with many windows. If I were to describe it succinctly, I might call it abandoned, yet lively. As if someone found it half-destroyed and fixed it up best they could to live in. The slow wisp of smoke rising from the lone stone chimney proves there’s someone living there. Either that, or were’ about to have a nice, big bonfire.

“Here we are.”

Yyyep. There’s a simple plaque hanging on the door. “Kirisame Magic Shop,” it says in black and white, little hearts and stars hanging off the text.

I knock.





Parsee yawns. Nothing. I do it again, and again. There’s a few more minutes of more nothing.
Maybe she’s not home? I push the door, and it gives easily. Open.

[ ] Go inside.
[ ] Chill here and wait for the master of the house.
[ ] Stalk around the windows.

____

i could have cured cancer with the time it took to write this update
Maybe, but curing cancer wouldn't have been as cute.


[x] Go inside.
[x] Chill here and wait for the master of the house.
[X] Go inside.

Cute update.
[X] Go inside.
Okaaay, let's call it.
I'm officially leaving the NEET life(;_;) in a month and a bit, so let's see if I can't hurry this up.
I’ve got to say, I’m excited! Considerably excited! Not about going into someone’s house uninvited — I’ve done that plenty — it’s the magic I’m hyped for. It’s a legitimate witchy witch’s house.
I push the door open slowly, stopping nervously when the shop doorbell rings. Of course, it’s a shop. The Kirisame Magic shop.

“Wow,” Yamame pipes up.
Wow would also be my reaction.

Wow.


It’s just one huge room. The massive blocky house seems to have no walls in the ground floor: it’s just a wide open hall with what seems to be every kind of magical junk scattered everywhere. But not haphazardly: there’s a counter near a wall filled with nothing but glassworks, some of them fittingly decorated with mysteriously colourful liquids. An alchemy corner, if I had to guess. A pair of shelves stocked full of trinkets that I can only guess are assorted magical items; a couple of other shelves, these filled with probably magical books. a set of practical stone steps, spiraling upwards and down into a basement. To finish it up, taking the largest amount of space of any installation is what seems to be a piece of floor cleared of any furniture or, in fact, any objects except for what seem to be candles placed on the floor. Traces of chalk on the floor can also be seen, from something that hasn’t been cleaned up very thoroughly. I feel strangely agitated: it’s a real magic workshop, with real magic, set up by a real magician! Maybe it’s not so strange, since I’m a magician too. Supposedly. It’s only natural I’d be excited, since this is also my own environment. I felt more or less the same back in Patchouli’s library, but I couldn’t go off and explore.
The place smells like magic. There’s an strong, penetrating smell of what seems like hard alcohol, there are earthy, sugary smells that associate to magic in my mind, and nuts, and mint, and all sorts of strange and different tastes lingering in the air. It’s actual magic. It’s so concentrated here that even someone like me can feel it clear as day.

All in all, quite an amazing workplace if you happen to be a magician. There’s even a jumbo-sized cast iron cauldron set up near the alchemy area. It’s bigger than my bucket. I can’t think of anything that’d be missing for your stereotypical witch.

And the witch herself is no exception.

I don’t think that can be anyone but the resident witch, even if she doesn’t have any distinctive witchy-wear on and all she’s doing is drooling on her own notes-face down on the counter with all the glass tubes. Panties and a light tank top on instead of the traditional cool hat and black velvety witch dress I’d come to expect.


“I’ve heard Marisa is a blonde, too,” says Parsee, not really lowering her voice. “This must be her.”

The three of us gingerly approach the sleeping witch. I think I can ignore her state of undress, but it’s kind of hard to pretend she’s not drooling all over her own work. And snoring. Didn’t even stir at the doorbell, either.
I thought witches were supposed to be ugly and have moles, but that doesn’t seem to hold up against reality. I was told she’s human, but this one barely looks 20 in human years! Can you even learn magic in that tiny amount of time? Golden hair, light eyes: all traits I thought were rare in humans. She looks haggard and unhealthily skinny, with circles under eyes even while sleeping peacefully. One thing I note is the amount of scars: a huge amount of scars. On her legs, her arms, neck, every piece of exposed skin I can see. Ragged burn scars, cuts and god knows what else. Some large enough that they seriously must have been a serious threat to her life.
The life of a human magician must be extraordinarily difficult.

“Aww,” Yamame coos, crouching next to her. “Isn’t she cute? And so tiny.”
She is short, true, but not as short as me.
No, I’m not jealous. That’s Parsee’s department.

“She looks like a mess. Terrible.” Yes, exactly like that. “Defenseless for a magician, isn’t she? I could bash her face in right now and she couldn’t do anything about it.”

“Stop it,” Yamame chides. “We came here to get help, not make enemies.”

“I doubt we’re getting anything from a sleeping witch. Can I at least knock ‘er awake?”

“No!”

Parsee twists her face into a frown. “A bucket of water, then?”

“I said no.” Yamame returns, having fully forgotten she’s not supposed to be talking loudly. I keep watching quietly. “Look at her, she needs rest more than anything. And some food.”


“I know, right? She’s just stayed up for over seventy hours working. If the gal doesn’t get her beauty sleep soon, poor girl’s gonna drop dead, or worse, go insane.”

There she is. Yamame freezes up and shuts her mouth, as door Parsee. Marisa, however, smiles lazily from her position on the counter. She’s not angry, I hope.

“Welcome to the shop,” she says, mid-yawn. “How can I help ya? If it can be som’thing I can do without getting up, all the better.”


Parsee stays quiet and puts on an unfriendly face, so it has to be Yamame to say it. Since she's skipping introductions, so will we. “We… she needs a seal undone.” She gives me a sideways look. “Would you show it…?”
Or it falls to me instead. Ergh, I hope this is the last time I have to undress in front of someone in this way. I don’t enjoy it at all.
Wriggling embarrassedly, I turn my back to Marisa. If I at least had a figure that wasn’t completely childish, this wouldn't be so miserable.

Let’s just do it. I throw off the back of my robe, showing off the complicated patterns of runes and criss-crossing circles. Marisa doesn’t even bat an eye. “Shinto work,” she says, not hesitating for a millisecond. “Not my field. Have you seen Reimu about this?”
For one second my hope crashes. I recall Byakuren’s words: ‘if she’s interested’, she’ll help you. Which means I’m screwed if she isn’t I have enough time to direct one desperate look to Yamame before the witch speaks up again. “Although… that’s odd.”

Oh, thank all the gods, there’s something odd. I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

“This isn’t like Hakurei work at all. Who did this?”
I look over my shoulders at the now wide-eyed and wide-awake(but no less exhausted looking) Marisa. If I knew that, it’d make everything a whole lot smoother, wouldn’t it?

I shrug.
Marisa hums. “I see.”
I feel her eyes running up and down my back. “These are similar, but the structure is completely different from what I’ve studied of Reimu’s work. This isn’t the work of that mountain shrine, is it?”
Her voice ramps up in intensity with each word, and I think we’ve already got her at this point. “It isn’t my field, but studying with Reimu…” her voice goes too low at that point, and she just mumbles to herself, tracing the lines on my body with her eyes over and over. Makes me nervous, to be honest.


For good reason, it turns out.
She grabs me.

Gets up in a single movement and grabs me. Pulls me by my still half-undone robe.

– – – – I resist. My legs stiffen. My teeth clench. I resist with all my might.


eBeing pulled by my rags robes. I’ve felt this. It’s not good.
Being pulled around isn’t fun.

It’s scary.
It’s not good.
It’s not cool.

I don’t want it.

[ ] SCREAM
[ ] FLAIL
[ ] BITE
[ ] I NO LONGER WANT YOUR HELP, THANKS

___

Next few updates will be really long.
I think.
[x] FLAIL
[x] BITE

Fight it off!
Why am I not surprised? How many more people do we have to go through before finding someone that doesn't go nutso.
[x] FLAIL
[x] FLAIL

All she's done so far is grabbed us, let's not go full paranoid just because she's a bit hands-on.
I GO WRITE
[X]CRY YOUR[my] HEART OUT!
Make others take sympathy to our cute bucket youkai!
Okay, I know she doesn’t mean any harm. The glow of curiosity in her eyes was clear when she noticed... whatever it is on my back. Just an overexcited researcher.
Lamentably, that doESN’T MAKE IT ANY LESS SCARY TO BE GRABBED ALL OF A SUDDEN LIKE THAT!

I violently jerk away from the confused witch, careening straight into a something-or-other she had lying around. Knowing my luck, some fragile priceless artifact. My robe stays in Marisa’s hand and I hit my head for the second time this week, feeling the sting from the previous injury. It was just starting to scab, too. At least I haven’t gone unconscious this time around, or worse, panicked.

Breathing deeply, I get myself under control and dive back down into my trusty bucket. I don’t wanna be seen in this… advanced state of nakedness. I’m okay. It was just a momentary freak-out. I’m fine.

Fine.

“What the fuck was that?”

Can’t blame her for that. After a moment of hesitation, I pop my head out to see Parsee trying her hardest to stare Marisa to death. I’ll consider that a remarkable improvement: Parsee from a week or two ago would almost certainly have attacked outright, or at the very least started hurling insults. My girl is growing up.

Marisa raises an eyebrow at us and plops down my robes on top of my head. Yamame offers an embarrassed “She… doesn’t like to be touched.” by way of an explanation.
Sorry. I try to look apologetic while I dress myself, but the witch’s only response is a crooked frown.
That might make it hard to work.” I begin to formulate a response, but she comes out with an oddly heated “We’ll figure something out.”


So ends our little exchange. Miss Marisa — I’ll call her miss, it feels like someone I should be respectful towards — doesn’t think anything of my silly outburst or Parsee’s rudeness, or if she does, she’s good at not letting it show. I think she simply doesn’t care: she’s too eager to start on her work, even so much as to give Yamame and Parsee free reign in her house. “Do whatever, just don’t break my stuff,” she says dismissively.


She tells me the first order of business is to painstakingly copy everything on my back over to plain paper, which means staying still and half-naked for an extended period. Bleh. My friends busy themselves mainly brewing tea and hovering nervously near me while I try to smile reassuringly at them.
No, just being stared at isn’t going to hurt me. I’ll be okay.

Marisa, for the most part, maintains monk-like concentration throughout. I think I can see why Byakuren spoke so highly of her. She looks like a true professional. The drawing, too. A flawless copy down to the last detail, at least as far as I can tell from this weird angle. All the intricate runes, archaic characters I don’t know, perfect geometric shapes and so on, drawn using nothing more than pencil and an old easel.

But it’s also made clear she isn’t in the best state of her life right now. Which isn’t hugely surprising: she’s a 20 year old human (practically a baby!) living far, far away from civilization, isolated, delving deep into the absurdly dangerous forbidden art of magic. It’d be stranger if she were normal.
I watch her over my shoulder and it’s a way more interesting spectacle than a person silently working has any right to be. For starters, she twitches. A lot. Her legs, arms and neck tend to jerk suddenly and frequently. I’m shocked it doesn’t seem to get in the way of her work at all: she keeps going as if nothing happened. The strangest one is the eyelid: every so often her right eyelid starts twitching like crazy for stretches of almost a minute, again to no reaction from Marisa. I’m tempted to ask if she’s alright, but I’d hate to interrupt her concentration. Besides, it looks like she’s used to it.
She also whispers to herself, which isn’t that unusual — but randomly making faces is.

She works slowly, but I can’t exactly rush her. It’s very intricate work. I’m not in any hurry, anyway, and watching her provides some entertainment.


After what must have been a couple of hours in silence aside from the wispy sound of pen on paper, Marisa finally breaks it. Keeps drawing, too.

“Sorry for this, but I need the seal on paper to do anything. Unless you’re okay with me trying stuff out on you directly?”

I shake my head. Forcefully, for good measure. Marisa grins.
“Thought so.”


“Okay,” she begins, sounding like she’s almost done. “It’s a seal, obviously. It’s shinto, but not Hakurei brand.” She pauses her pen for what feels the first time and taps it against her lips thoughtfully. “If it wasn’t the mountain shrine either, who was it? I don’t know of any other shrines. This doesn’t look old enough to be from before Gensokyo, either.”

Yamame pipes up, trying to be helpful. Bless her. “I don’t think the oni could have done it.”

Marisa halts at that. “The oni?”

Oh. Crap.
Her look of confusion morphs into a mischievous grin. “Oh-ho, I see. Clandestines, are we?”

Yamame stutters. “N-no, we just–”
“Oh, don’t worry. It’s not my job to worry about that.” That’s a relief. “Anyway, this is different enough from what I’ve seen that it might take some time to solve. A few days, at best.”
I wasn’t expecting to have it done today, but days? And ‘solved’? What is it, a puzzle?
Eh, it’s not like I have a choice.


That closes out our day. Marisa tells us she has to pass out immediately and shuts herself in her room after showing us where we’re staying.
So begins our short sojourn. Maybe a week? Not enough time for much interesting to happen. Marisa spends more time than is healthy feverishly working at diagrams and papers: way less flashy lights and rituals than I expected magic would involve
Regardless, there were a few notable moments — before it happened.

[ ] With Marisa.
[ ] With Parsee and Yamame.
[ ] By myself?

_____

Nevermind about the long updates. I decided to break them up instead of dumping everything.
Also, pick only one.
[x] With Marisa.
[ ] With Marisa.
[x] With Marisa.

She seems okay.
I have no clue what this vote is going to do...
*rolls dice*
Parsee and Yamame it is!

[X] With Parsee and Yamame.
K WRITING IS GO
>>14077

Damn, missed my chance to vote for Koishi. Oh well, it's not like it would've made a difference anyway.
The first two or so days prove less eventful than expected. Miss Marisa is the only one doing anything: the three of us just sit around, pretty much. I did offer to help at some point, but was waved off without a word. Parsee and Yamame are off in their own world, which I think I’ll have to deal with at some point. Or not. Is it a big deal if they have their own thing and are leaving me out of it? Being secretive? Maybe it'd be arrogant to think I'm owed anything.
I’ll have to think about it later.

For my part, I try to entertain myself reading the few books I can understand, which are astoundingly rare. The vast majority of these are either not in japanese or are about some highly technical magic stuff. I do give it a try, but it’s all way over my head. The couple of thin fiction novels I do find, I’m done with in less than an afternoon.
I also have enough sense to avoid touching the trinkets scattered around, especially after a mundane-looking metal box temporarily blinds me with a flash of light after I open it.

Marisa sometimes works in her room, sometimes down in the ground floor, always either hunched over a pile of those weird runic drawings or hunting for some reference book or another. Most of the time she’s scribbling furiously or starting out at the void. Notably, I haven’t seen her sleep or rest once.
Occasionally she’ll pop up and ask me something random like “What moon are we on?” or “Do you eat a lot of meat?, but otherwise it’s a quiet sort of time. Despite the fact that she’s helping me completely for free, I don’t even interact with her much.

Until one day — I think it’s the third day. I find myself before the imposing door to her room. She always has it shut tight, and the solid, dark wood is hardly the most inviting. I ended up wandering here in a boredom-induced trance, although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t curious. There’s also the basement I haven’t explored, but that place is even less welcoming. It’s way dark and creepy, reminds me of the underground. Maybe later.
Anyway, Marisa’s room. She hasn’t explicitly told us to stay out, so it should be fine. I hope. I brought us some tea as a backup plan.


I push open the heavy door and slink into the room. Or do the closest thing to slinking I can manage while stuck in a large bucket.
It’s no otherworldly fairytale witch's room. Honestly, it's about what I’d expect from what I’ve seen so far. A bed and cupboard to one side, untouched. Practically covered in dust. To the other side, her work desk, looking like it’s suffered an avalanche of paper and stationery, with the main culprit in the middle of it all, so hunched over and her face so close to her notes that her long, tangled hair scatters all over the desk. She doesn’t give any sign she’s noticed me come in, even though the door creaks like mad. Just keeps drawing: long, slow strokes, punctuated by some of those odd twitches of hers.
I can’t see what she’s drawing, but the many papers on her desk tell the story. It’s not an exact copy of mine, but they’re all familiar: tens of seemingly identical drawings, circles and runes and all.

I’m about to sit by her chair and wait for her to notice me when she suddenly rights herself. Slowly, like she’s preparing, she places one finger on the center of the page she’s just been drawing on and does — something, clearly. Magic things. There's a grating buzzing noise and a burst of hot air engulfs the room, blowing some of her stuff around, making an even bigger mess of the room and making me squint.

But that’s all there is. Marisa lets out a suffering sigh and slumps backwards, tossing the failed attempt on the pile with the others.

“Oh.”
She notices me. I smile awkwardly and offer her a cup of tea, which she accepts despite looking mildly surprised.

“Thank you,” she whispers, sounding as exhausted as she looks.

Hm.
I write out a single word on my notebook.
BREAK?


She looks at the notebook, and up at me. Considers it for a long time. Longer than such a simple proposal warrants.
“Sure.”
Good. I’m a little worried, to be honest. I don’t know much about humans, but I do know that pale with large bags under their eyes isn’t a healthy look for one of them. She’s barely sleeping working on this, that much is clear. There’s no need to hurry that much.
“Don’t give me that look,” she scoffs. “I get enough of it from Reimu. Yes, I’m fine, thank you.”

O–okay, then. Sorry.
I'll drop it. Surely she knows about her own body better than I. I sip at my tea quietly and so does she, looking at me from the corner of her eye.

“Say, not that I care, but,” she begins cautiously. Pause for another sip. “What’s the deal with the three of you? Traveling troupe? Cult? A love triangle?””

That last one nearly makes me choke on my tea. Marisa smirks at my reaction. “A-ha.”

No, it’s not like that! I shake my head, but she keeps smirking.
I write hurriedly. “FAMILY, SORT OF

I see,” she smiles, obviously misinterpreting me. Geez. “Don’t worry, It’s none of my business and I’m not trying to make it my business.”


Silence, again. We both sip.
Marisa speaks up, sounding more sober this time.
“I should warn you.”
Hmm? I look up at her.

“It’s about your seal.” Professional tone, now. “Being completely frank, I don’t know a good half of what’s going on with it,” she says, picking up one of the drawn-on sheets of paper. “I can undo it, but I don’t know exactly what will happen aside from the obvious main youkai seal braking.” I nod. “There could be all sorts of conditions here that I can’t see, and thus lots of unpredictable side effects. Things like memory changes, serious pain, even change of personality are not uncommon. At least not according to my sources.”

That’s worrying. But only for a second. Memories, was it? I think for a moment about… things. The things I don’t like thinking about. The hurt, and all that.


I shiver and push it away.

It’s tough, but it’s also about time I face all this nonsense, and this is likely the best chance I’ll get. I can’t very well live my entire life the way I’ve been. Not without being utterly miserable.

Marisa hums, divining something from my expression. “As long as you’re sure. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve got work to do.”

What? That wasn’t even five minutes! What kind of a break is that? I try to protest, but Marisa promptly (but unsteadily) gets up to shoo me off.

The door slams behind me. She does mind interruptions, it seems.

____

I still have time to roam around and steel myself.

I decide to spend some time

[ ] alone.
[ ] with Parsee and Yamame.


_____

WE'RE BOOSTING THROUGH THIS SHIT, VOTE FAST OR YOU'LL BE LEFT BEHIND
[X] with Parsee and Yamame.
NO BRAKES ON THIS TRAIN
[x] with Parsee and Yamame.

Maybe our last chance for double headpats before we acquire godlike power!
[X] with Parsee and Yamame.

Gotta go fast!
I COULD'VE HAD IT DONE BY NOW BUT YA'LL SLOW AND I DIDN'T WANT TO UPDATE ON ONE VOTE
OK WRITING
Food.

I need food.
Not strictly, but I need food. Reason being, I’ve gotten used to it, so it’d be better to eat unless I want to spend the rest of the day listening to guttural, embarrassing noises coming from my own stomach. I hate to be this much of a freeloader, but I’m small; it won't take that much food to satisfy me.

Not that Marisa has much for me to take in the first place. I hunt all over the shop, but edible spoils are barely anywhere to be found. There's no kitchen, so I need to search. Stuffed in a dusty cupboard along with arcane alchemy stuff, I find half a bag of rice, some crackers, a bottle of foul-smelling alcohol and way too many bags full of dried mushrooms to count. I don’t dare eat those: they’re ‘uniquely’ coloured and not even labeled. Could be potion ingredients, for all I know. Don’t know how to make rice either, so all that’s left are the crackers. Which is fine, they’re crunchy and filling, especially with something to drink. Usually water.
But as I reach out to pick up the crackers, I see something else, hiding. A wide, flat box, tucked behind some of that bulky chemical equipment. A sort of box I believe I’ve seen before. Naturally, I dig it out.

And yep, it’s as I thought. I’ve seen this before. The flawless outsider-made lines and drawings on the cover. Opening it, the little sweet-smelling bundles of deliciousness.
Chocolates. It’s hard to resist immediately snatching and eating one right then and there, but I restrain myself. These bring up some nostalgic memories. Nostalgic memories of events that happened a few weeks ago at most, but still. Come to think of it, didn’t I owe Yamame a box of these? It feels like forever ago that ‘incident’ happened, I can’t even recall if I ever paid her back.
I’ll take a couple of chocolates, just to make sure. I’m sure she’ll be happy, even with just one.
Marisa seems to have been saving these, so I feel somewhat bad about swiping them. But not bad enough.
Oh, and my crackers.


After some searching around the house, I find the two of them outside strolling through the ‘garden’ outside. Together. As has been the case constantly.

No, I don’t care.

The outside is nice enough, despite the lack of sunlight. It’s like a scenic sunset, except the colours are constantly shifting and there’s more than one sun. Right now, everything is tinted a serene light green.

Yamame greets me with a wide smile, and Parsee even flashes me her teeth, even though, as usual, it looks more akin to a threat display on her. But it's okay, it’s the intention that matters. They both look to be in a great mood.

They're in the middle of some chit chat, looks like. “And what's the point of a garden with no fruit?” asks Yamame.

Parsee shrugs in response. “Hell if I know. It isn't even good for fresh air; it's just as stuffy out here as inside. But it's fine,” Parsee adds, frowning. “At least we get away from that madwoman for a stretch.”

Yamame bursts out laughing. “Madwoman? And we’re perfect examples of sane and ordinary citizens, then?”

Parsee purses her lips. “You know what I’m talking about. She always looks like she’s about to…” she struggles for a word. “Come apart. Break. She’s a total basket case.”

“Break? I don’t–”
Yamame cuts herself off.
“Okay, fine. I can’t deny that.” Haha. “But until she proves otherwise, she’s a friend.”

Parsee grumbles, but it doesn’t seem like she has any real qualms against Marisa. Just being a nag.
“I just wish there was something to do. It’s boring here, even with you.”

‘Even with you’ she says, to Yamame and Yamame alone. I don’t think she realizes what she just said, but the bright smile quickly blooming on Yamame’s face tells me the story is different with her. I don't know how she stops herself from teasing.
I can’t help but smile too, even though— I don’t know.
Something feels off.


Right, I’ve got chocolates! Everybody loves chocolate.
Parsee continues. “Plus, this place reminds me too much of home. I don’t like it here.”

“I know what you mean, but bear with it.” Hey, guys? Um. “We’ll have to go back eventually, too.”

Parsee scowls. “We’ll see about that.”
Hellooo? I float over right in front of them. Surely you can’t escape noticing these delightful bon-bons now.

“Oh, thank you.”
Ah. Yamame takes one from my hand with a smile, Parsee the other.
Y–yes, of course. You’re… welcome, I suppose.



Now I’ve gone and embarrassed myself. What was I expecting, a party? An award for handing out sweets? So stupid. So, so stupid. I turn and leave in a hurry.

I’d better go and eat by myself. Preferably in a hole.

Idiot.

___


Way longer update next time. And slower.
The day I’d been simultaneously dreading and eagerly anticipating grows closer and closer by the second. I see its gradual approach every time I look at Marisa. It’s a little terrifying, but at the same time, there’s that funny tickling inside my stomach. You know the one, you feel it when you’re about to do something daring, or incredibly dangerous, like when I drank with a Deva.
Hey, shut up. It could have easily ended in maiming.

It turned out to be obvious when the moment came along. Marisa was practically shaking in her boots from excitement when she came up to tell me, trying hard not to let it show — who knows why. What’s wrong with being honestly excited about your achievements? Either way, she wasn’t very good at it, couldn’t contain a smirk so wide it nearly became a grin.

“Done! Done, done, done, done.”
Her blonde curls bounce up and down — along with the rest of her — as she momentarily struggles to put it in words. “I did it, it’s solved!”
Marisa hops over to me, and if it weren’t for the severe bags under her eyes, nobody would ever be able to figure out she’s gotten a total of 8 hours of sleep over the past week.

“Come on! Come with me, and we’ll have that thing out of you in a jiffy.” She pulls on the handle of my bucket, forcing me to go with her. I’d have shaken her off, but she just seemed so happy, I’d feel bad. The bouncy witch ‘carries’ me all the way to the center of that open space in the ground floor, with the candles and chalk on the floor.


Yamame and Parsee show up from upstairs to check on the commotion; Marisa hasn’t been quiet, to put it mildly. She yells at them as well. “You two come watch too. We’re starti– Oh!”
She freezes on the spot for a second. “Wait, I need to get dressed for this.”
Get dressed? I haven’t seen the witch wear anything other than comfy-looking stay-home clothes: Shorts, loose shirts, that sort of thing. She sprints upstairs like she’s being chased.
I glance at Yamame thinking maybe she knows something, but all I get is a shrug.

Marisa comes back quickly, but it’s like a completely different person showed up. I’m suddenly reminded that this is indeed a legendary figure in Gensokyo, second only to the guardian of the land. Even I’d heard of her before, and I live in a hole in the ground.
Called the black-white, for obvious reasons. Black, long, heavy black dress below the knees. White, surprisingly unblemished apron. Black, commanding leather boots. White ribbon around an impractically large black hat. By all rights, the entire getup should make her look comical, but that’s not what ends up happening. The final effect is that even this short, malnourished and habitually frazzled little human evokes respect, like there’s a kind of… power? In these clothes, she has the clear aura of someone who knows what they’re doing. Which I suppose she’s always had to some degree, but it’s as if the outfit amplifies it.

Parsee raises an eyebrow. “You need to look good to cast spells?”

Marisa, doesn’t stop moving to answer. “No, but I have enough protective charms in here to keep me safe from anything short of Reimu on a rampage.”

“Oh. You’re expecting to need that?”
She lets the question hang for a moment while she drags a table out to the center of the floor. It’s a worrying pause.

“I’m sure nothing will happen, but y’know. Just in case.” She turns and gestures me closer. “Come on.”
Okaay. I move closer to her.
“Right. Take off your robe and lie down here.”


Ugh. I knew it’d come down to something like this. But it doesn’t change the fact that I need to do it — I think I can. It’s not that bad. Marisa is small and a… friend, or close enough. She’s harmless, and she’s trying to help me. There’s no need at all to be afraid of her. This is what the whole journey has been for.
Well, not really, but I still have to do it.
Besides, Yamame and Parsee are here too. Maybe if we could hold han–

I shake my head. No, that won’t do. It’s my problem, I can’t keep replying on them forever.


Alright. Shaking only a little bit, I face away from everyone and slide the robe down to my waist. Covering with my arms what little there is to be covered, I climb off the bucket and onto the table, face down.
It’s cold. Not metal cold, but cold.

“It’s simple,” comes Marisa’s voice from somewhere above me. “I’m going to draw over the seal on your back, then run some power through it. The problem should solve itself.”
Uh-huh.

I feel the light, wet touch of what I assume is a thin brush trace across my back. Straight lines, straight lines, curved lines, and something that I think is writing. She writes slowly, but even then, it’s surprisingly quick. I think barely five minutes pass before she gladly announces she’s done.
“Now, put them together...” she mumbles, more to herself than to our benefit. She taps me with a single finger, and from that point a slow warmth spreads over me, like someone’s pouring hot water on my back.
It feels nice, actually.

“Are you ready?”

That wasn’t it? I nod.

“I should warn you. This might hurt.” Hm. She hadn’t mentioned that. “Will hurt.”

Wait, what?

“A lot.”

I don’t have time to do much as I feel her palm land right between my shoulder blades.

_________


Would you guys rather I continued posting these normal-sized updates as I complete them or should I just write the whole thing out then post it?
I like these normal sized updates myself.
Normal-sized updates are fine with me. Better that than a long-ish hiatus while you write up everything.
Normal-sized updates are fine with me too.
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14099
I feel a strange clarity, even through what feels like a giant hook ripping directly through my ribcage. I think I’m screaming, but nevertheless I see clearly and I think clearly.

I see how it is.
Yes, I knew from the beginning. But I also didn’t want to know exactly what had happened. I avoided thinking about it, even though I knew in detail how I got here, deep down. I’d just ‘decided’ to forget, because it was more the convenient option.

There’s no way I, or anyone, would truly forget. Human, youkai or god, it wouldn’t matter. There’s no forgetting that kind of treatment.


They had the good luck to find a few-days-old youkai. One unfortunately born without the survival instincts it needed to stay far, far away from humans, as it should have. It stupidly strayed too close to them, for too long. The result was predictable. I was caught, and got extra unlucky on top of that: instead of receiving the customary merciful sword to the neck, there was an even crueler fate in store for me. Was it how I looked? Did the one who caught me have a special kind of bad taste? Who knows. Fact is, some old priest slapped me with a seal and shipped me off.


I truly don’t know how long it lasted. Maybe it was a number of years, maybe a handful of months.
It was a wooden prison. A darkened room, the huge windows almost completely boarded up: one single slit between two badly-placed planks provided my only lighting. A single, lonely ray of sunlight shined through for perhaps a few hours a day. It was all I had — all the fresh air I had the good fortune of getting in there. I did try to escape, but I was a newborn sealed youkai, with no more strength than a young human. All I got out of my attempts were some bleeding nails.
I used to go up to the window sometimes, sickened with the stale air and smell of my own sweat, to get as much of the outside atmosphere as I dared. It the entertainment I had up there, looking down at the busy humans. Housewives hurrying along, chatting, with their chattering children in tow; salesmen peddling their wares; the one drunkard that showed up nearly every day to hassle the passers-by. A happy, busy town. I saw it all from my little spot above them.
Above…?
Yeah. It was a tower. An unused bell tower. Every hour I wasn’t passed out, I was either looking outside, wishing I was one of the guileless humans below or cowering inside the disused bell that had been rolled to the ground. A large bronze hiding place, cold and as welcoming as anything in this cell could get. The freezing walls protected me.



I just lied.
They didn’t protect a thing.
Every few nights the prophetic multitude heavy footsteps sounded below, echoing like drums all the way up to my hiding spot. I felt the exact same overwhelming dread every time and squeezed myself as close to the deep end of the bell every single time. It never helped, but I couldn’t help but do it: it was all the fight I could put up. The rough, calloused hands dragged me out each time, not caring all that much for my well-being.

I particularly recall the one boy — always there. The one who opened the door and received coins from the other ones as they went inside. A fee collector, I suppose.
Those were times before the red-white. From what I gather, the village was in a constant struggle to survive, so the youkai related fatalities weren’t few. Brothers, fathers, sons, uncles were habitually bereaved of family by my wilder cousins. When they found out there was one of the hated, murdering youkai being kept tame in the old bell tower, the temptation must’ve been too great for some. At least a good amount restrained themselves to the simpler kind of revenge. They couldn’t kill me, but they sure could kick, punch, strangle, stomp, and in some of the more unfortunate occasions, bring along extra tools for me. Then, there were the other ones.

Why, what a happy coincidence. This little defenseless youkai can be at your mercy with the payment of a modest fee. And it just so happens to look almost exactly like a human child.
What luck.

I remember it all clearly.
Every second.

Any sound I made was swiftly punished, any whimper was quickly dealt with by a boot to the ribs, or the teeth if I was unlucky. I couldn’t do much more than moan in pain, and only when nobody was around.
So went my delightful routine. Get beaten and abused by a half-dozen men, crawl back into a metal hole and heal for a few days — which I was very good at doing, being a youkai — then repeat.

Oh dear.

Haha.

Oh my.


The worst part was really the aftermath. Running like an animal, barely conscious until I found the underground. Then, a good half century as a common youkai beast. Hunting for scraps, panicking every minute. Getting hunted by oni, by random youkai. Suffering through a life that could have gone so much easier. Most of that part I actually don’t remember much of, living as a barely sapient life form.
But I was recovering, if very, very slowly.


How stupid.
What good does remembering all of this do? Really remembering it. I could’ve just as well gone the rest of my long life without giving it a single thought. Those people are probably all dead by now.
Although — I wonder if they truly are?

...I wonder.

Oh dear-my. Oh my dear.
That’s no good.



Slowly, I feel the real world settle back around me. The cold table on my chest, the stale air filled with unidentified chemical scents, the witch next to me and, of course, the remains of a branding, flaying, burning kind of pain spiraling through my spine.
Ah, but I feel great, regardless. Amazing, as a matter of fact. The cold is colder, the smells are more lively, the sounds clearer, the colours brighter. It’s like I’ve been barely breathing for all of my life, and now my airways are cleared. Like my veins are now pumping at full capacity, after decades and decades of living half-dead.
I feel nice and alive. I feel strong.

I take a deep breath. I hear Marisa’s voice.
“Are you okay?”

I smile. I’m okay.
I’m very okay.

_____

This is actually an update I've been dreading since I started writing this, for obvious reasons.
Meh. I committed to the story, so no way around it.
Awww shit son. Time for some Metal Bucket Rising: Revengeance.
Oh deary dear. This can only end well.
>>14099
Hollow china face, do not want! We can't weaponize cuteness like this!
Unless of course, this is just part of the transformation, like some sort of realistic pokemon evolution without the glowing.
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14105
I’m totally and completely okay.

I feel absolutely bursting with life, but still! We mustn’t get too crazy rightt off the bat. I start by squeezing my hands and curling my toes. Then, a deep breath. S–simple system checks, you see. Once I’m satisfied that nothing too horrible happened while I was writhing in pain and having unwelcome flashbacks, I brace myself and try to sit up.
...And promptly pitch forward, almost ending in a magnificent faceplant. Whew, okay, loss of balance is a side-effect, then. I feel strange. Marisa steps out in front of me and says something, but I can’t parse a single word. I hear her voice, but it’s like she’s talking in another language.huma
She gives up talking and taps her chest instead. What? I don’t understand wh– oh.
I pull my robe back up over my shoulders. Oops.


Right.
Now that I’m set and sure I’m of completely sound※̶̡⃣̵̛mind, I have somewhere to be.

I juuust, you know, have something to confirm. I have to see if that tower is still standing. I’ll just have a quick look, that’s all. I definitely won’t do anything extreme. Just, look. Yeah.
I’ll just have a look.
At the tower.

A gander.
At that disdisgusting place. Just check it out. It might even still be m͎̣̹̥̙̳̱̕e̛͍̙̯͓-̡̳̯̻̗͟͡stained up there. That’ll be interesting to see. I’ll have to go there.
I have to leave. I have to go.

I have to go there.

I’m going. There. I’m going there. That horrible, revolting prison cell.

I have to go.

I have to go.

I have to go. I have to go. I have to go I have to go I have to go i have to go i have to go i have to go i have to go i have to go i have to go i have to go i
have
to g o





_____________

[ ] The sister.
[ ] The witch.


_____

>>14102
*ᴵᵐᵃᵍᵉˢ ᵃʳᵉ ᶠᵒʳ ᶦᶫᶫᵘˢᵗʳᵃᵗᶦᵛᵉ ᵖᵘʳᵖᵒˢᵉˢ ᵒᶰᶫʸ ᵃᶰᵈ ˢʰᵒᵘᶫᵈ ᶰᵒᵗ ᵇᵉ ᵗᵃᵏᵉᶰ ᵃˢ ᵃᶰ ᶦᶰᵈᶦᶜᵃᵗᶦᵒᶰ ᵒᶠ ˢᵗᵒʳʸ ᵉᵛᵉᶰᵗˢ⋅
oops i saged my update
[x] The sister.

save us counselor Koishi
[x] The sister.

I wonder how Koishi will respond to this?
[x] The witch.

"I'm sure that absolutely nothing will go wrong. In the event that it does, however, I'm right here to blast you straight back into that bucket!"
[x] The sister.

The Marisa option seems likely to end in violence. Maybe Koishi will be able to help.
[X] The Sister
Let's hope she does not make things worse.
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14112
>>14110
Hahahaha, oh wow.
Anyway, called.
>>14112
This latest series of votes in my mind can be summed up as "OH GOD?! WTF is going on? I don't even...."
Not related to the current events, but I have to say, I have been really digging these twisted versions of the magicians, what with Patchouli being exceptionally frail and Marisa being less than sane (and scarred up too, so cool!). Fits well with their characters, but also takes a step past the threshold of normalicy to make things unsettling, a really awesome effect. I would have liked to see how Alice would have turned out, but I'm liking this Marisa way more anyways. And now Kisume is super twisted too, how delightful!
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14115
Hello everyone!
My name is Koishi, of the Komeiji! Komeiji as in 古 for “ancient”, 明 for “bright” and 地 for “earth”; and Koishi as in “ko”, “i” and “shi”. I am many-many-many-years-old and my number one most favourite thing in, under or above the land is my sister, who I love more than anyone or anything! She’s wise, great, kind, warm, lovely, and loves me almost as much as I love her. Some of my other favourite things right now are: eating, sunbathing, kissing Sister, cute small animals, hugging Sister, playing pranks on unsuspecting humans, snuggling with Sister in bed, exploring SisterGensokyo and tickling Sister. She’s very ticklish, see.
I’m an ex-satori, or maybe I’m still a satori, except I can’t do satori things like looking into people’s thoughts anymore. I can, however, do something way better while Sister is stuck with that same old god-awful kind of mind-reading, which I wouldn’t take back for any price.

...I miss her.

Unfortunately she won’t come with me upside no matter how much I bug her about it, so I’m forced to find other things to do — for example, observation of a small cute animal youkai. Poor little nameless thing, she sure has had it rough — not lately, but rough all the same. Sitting on a counter and popping dried mushrooms into my mouth like popcorn, I watch the bony half-pint visibly struggle to gather up her courage, get up from her home-bucket and take off her clothes under Marisa’s instructions. It’s not the first time I’ve seen her undressed, but it’s painful every time: I just want to grab her head and force-feed her a hamburger, or, or some steak! It looks like she’s about to tip over and fall from weakness every time she gets up from that bucket.

Anyhow, she lies down on the table and Marisa gets to work. That’s another interesting one. Not so much on the cuteness, but definitely the most fascinating human I’ve ever met. I’ll have to have some fun with her eventually.
She does her magicky spell circle drawing business and suddenly slaps my nameless youkai on the back — and it happens. I’ve never seen a real unsealing before, so it’s fairly exciting! The marks on her back briefly shine different colours, right before she starts screaming.


Oh dear.
Oh my. That looks very violent.

I hop off the counter and come closer to the action for a better look — and wow, she really squirms. It’s a wonder she doesn’t flop right off the table. She’s so thin you can clearly see the bones shifting under the skin as she moves, like an anatomic model at the doctors’. And in her head — wow, that’s not a good look at all. Like a storm cloud covering the sky and shining with lightning. Positively going mad. This feels like it would if she were going through something really horrible, which is never a good sign. Voice sounds like a rabbit being tortured, too, which isn’t that far from reality.

Then it ends, just as suddenly as it started — and I can see a certain kind of grim determination settle firmly above her head like a curse mark before she even sits up. Not literally see, but you know what I mean. She probably doesn’t even realize it.

Oh dear-my. Oh my dear.
That’s no good. Her teeth clenches, she tenses, all bad signs.

This is pretty serious stuff. Even Marisa instinctively takes a step back, being as sensitive to the mystical as a human can be. I also back away so I don’t get disintegrated should something happen.
Then, as expected, Marisa’s preciously, laboriously warded and defended house blows apart. Boom! In a flash of light and heat and sound, an entire wall is reduced to brick, dust and fire — the rest of the building stays up, but the cause of the explosion is gone before the witch even gets up from cover.
As a matter of fact… oh no. She’s out.

I walk over and crouch by her to check if she hasn’t hit her head or anything. This one definitely can’t die before I get to her, and if she does, I’ll have to cross the Sanzu myself and get her back.
I’m no human specialist, but there’s no blood and I didn’t see her fly into anything, so she must be fine? I suppose? Maybe it has to do with the fact that she looked dead on her feet just before. I’d stay and take care of the witch, but right now I have more important things to do, like follow my charge and make sure she doesn’t get herself eviscerated trying to fight Reimu — I’ve seen it happen! As she is, she might survive, but it won’t hurt to make sure.
Sister diiid say not to meddle directly with people’s business, but! I can’t just leave her alone, can I?


I step out through the ruined wall and head off towards the village, which I know is where she’s headed. She’s going out of her mind, so it practically broadcasts where she is and how she feels to a good quarter of Gensokyo. That is: to me, if I happen to be within a quarter of Gensokyo. It happens more often than you’d think and always provides quality entertainment.

Flying quickly, I hold on to my cute hat.
Today should be no exception.
We made the right choice.
File 142414154617.jpg - (97.18KB, 565x800, 69021afcbad94498bf7c64f3fe84ea57.jpg) [iqdb]
14117
Tree trunk. Tree trunk. Tree trunk. Glowy mushroom. Tree trunk. Fairy. Glowy mushroom. More tree trunks. The “Magic Forest” sure is a boring place, considering its name. Maybe there’s a trick to it.
Wait, no, I can’t get distracted this easily — not that I could forget what I’m doing if I tried with the little one going this berserk. I think even if I were clear outside Gensokyo I’d feel her. It’s hard to describe the feeling to someone who doesn’t even have the appropriate sense, but it’s… it’s like… Like a constant painful tapping on the side of my skull. Like the smell of burning rubber, like a bloody, faded shade of wine and the dulled sound of a nail on a chalkboard and the taste of wood. Like all of those things together — you don’t feel them separately. Does that make sense?

Either way, last time someone went this far off the edge it ended in more than a few lives ending early. It was a grisly affair, I tell you. Bodies, life fluids and guts everywhere.
I had to throw out those clothes. I learned that blood doesn’t come off no matter what you do that day.


Even being bad at flying (which I am), it doesn’t take too long to leave the sea of gigantic trees behind and start seeing those village outskirts — farms, fields, roads, livestock, humans going about their human business. Took a pair of hours perhaps, made slightly less boring by flying low and dodging stuff. I did clip a cow with my legs and made it fall over, so that was fun.
It’s not as entertaining as walking with company, but it’ll do for now. I reach the village without any incident and awkwardly float straight through the still-busy streets and the humans’ shoddy buildings to where I know she’ll be.

Being this close actually hurts my everything, but I gotta see what she’ll do. Odds are high our local murdering miko Hakurei Reimu will be showing up soon, so whatever it is she’s going to do, she better get to it quickly.
I find the little one standing — sans bucket — at the foot of the old tower, staring fixedly up at it with cloudy eyes. The rotten, ugly, square, short, unpainted, dirty bell tower with sealed windows is a sad sight. Did they even finish building this? It’s not in the village’s most popular neighbourhood either, but what passersby there are give us a wide berth, heads clearly coloured with worry and fear. I go ahead and give ‘em a tweak, to make sure no smart-asses come up, accidentally set my friend off and cause an old-fashioned youkai massacre. Humans are so incredibly stupid sometimes, and I bet these people wouldn’t appreciate a coating of insides on their village.

Miss magician just stands there looking up at the crappy monolith with the same blank, haggard look on her face for long, long, long minutes. I’m about to try helping her along when she takes a faltering step and tries the door.
Clunk clunk. Predictably locked.

There’s a crash and splinters fly everywhere.

The door is no longer locked.

“Don’t mind us, everyone! Just plain old regular city maintenance personnel here!” I wave to the passing humans, adjusting my arteries some. Sometimes they shift when I walk.
Nobody pays attention, as usual. Typical.


Progress up the decaying wooden steps is so, so slow. I wanna shout at her to hurry it up, but I wouldn’t dare even though staying next to her has already given me an awful migraine. Uuuugh. I pull my cute hat down hard enough to rip, covering my eyes. As if that would help. Come on come on come on, why are you so slow? It’s just an empty room up there, there’s nothing interesting! Finish up your little episode already!

At (great) length, we get to the top of the tower. She’s not so used to using her legs, so it takes some time. Also, head issues. What a weirdo. For unknown reasons, she knocks on the rickety door and waits. The sound echoes ominously down the steps.
No answer, no surprise.

Pushes the door open.

Ah-ha! This was the room she was in, her old room. The huge brass bell somehow still hasn’t broken through the rotten floor, the windows are still all boarded up with the exception of that one slit of light that shines through. Looks the same but dirtier, impressive given the time frame.
Yep, still the very same room I opened for her all the way back then. I was surprised how fast she could run on those skinny, abused legs back then.

Very nostalgic.

Inside the bell is a sleeping old man in the timeless homeless style. Wrinkled, stained, white-haired, bearded, dirty, with nothing but regrets in his mind, sleeping in an abandoned building with discarded bottles of booze for company and looking like he hasn’t more than a few years left in him. Miserable. Taking a better look at it, it looks like the tower isn’t exactly how we left it, only close. Aside from the homeless man, signs it’s been lived in are scattered around everywhere. Food scraps, that sort of thing. Mostly the bottles.


I feel a stinging pain shoot through my body.
What’s up now? I look at my magician, and she’s trying to death-stare the old man with that same dumb expression. But something is different.
It’s also the look of recognition. Not the kind of recognition where you’re glad you’re seeing an old friend, either. You might even call it the exact opposite of that.


Uh-oh. Looks like someone is going to end up regretting what they did. Even more than they do already.
I think I know where this is going and it’s not a pretty place.

[ ] Now is the time to do something!
[ ] Watch on for a while longer. She deserves this much.
[X] Watch on for a while longer. She deserves this much.
[x] Now is the time to do something!
[X] Now is the time to do something!

Kisume please
[X] Now is the time to do something!

Koishi for best secret friend. I'm glad she made a reappearance given how long it's been since we've encountered her.
[x] Watch on for a while longer. She deserves this much.

I don't have the heart to take this away from her.
>>14122
Consider this, what exactly will Reimu do after it's discovered that Kisume murdered a human in the middle of the human village?
>>14123

How would she know it was Kisume? We're currently under Koishi's perception filter, so no one saw Kisume at the scene of the crime. It's still risky, but not outright suicidal.

Despite that, it's probably still a bad idea to just let this play out, but as I said before, I don't have the heart to take this from her.
[ ] Now is the time to do something!
[X] Now is the time to do something!
Alllwrighte, called. That's a lot of votes.
[x] Watch on for a while longer. She deserves this much.
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14131
I’ve got to make a fast decision – I’m good at that. It’s difficult for me to act on anything other than impulse sometimes, so it just ends up that way. This time, though, I’m forced to think about it for a second. See, sister told me not to kill anyone. To add to that, she told me definitely, absolutely, unconditionally never ever to eat anyone. I always try to do good so she’ll praise me.

Technically, it wouldn’t be me doing any killing. Technicality doesn’t fly with Sister, so that’s no help at all. I want to just let her at the guy. Look at him, he has a foot in the grave already. By the look of him, I think he’d even thank us for it. She deserves this! Her satisfaction is worth shaving a handful of miserable years off a meaningless little human’s life, isn’t it? A handful of miserable months, even.
But, but sister would…

Hmm.
Damn it, I think I might only be good at quick decisions when one option is something I really want. Or there’s only one option. Maybe I’m not so good at decisions, now that I think about it.
Think, think. I shift my weight, tap my feet, pace around, do everything I can come up with that’s supposed to help with thinking. That’s what those are, right?

Ehh, FINE. I don’t understand her reasoning, but I know for sure sister will be really angry and hit me again if I do nothing at all, and I don’t want that. I’m already on one strike from when I tried to play with the little one back in the underground. She was furious. She seriously slapped me! I cried for a whole day over that, you know?

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked again. I should go and appease this little menace bef–
crrrack

Then, human dying noises.


Oh.
So much for fast decisions. Sorry, sis’.
To make it worse, I hear a few sets of footsteps echo from the bottom of the stairwell.

Well, crap. That plan is out the window.
Now what?
File 142458452918.jpg - (162.76KB, 517x622, cc3ed28cde4bcf24cd16229d2a158fc9.jpg) [iqdb]
14135
.҈⃓͢"̀͘--͝⃣͝⊠⃢⃚̸̶̷̶⃘҈---╫̡̀⃣⋬̛́-------------☈⃥̡̢̨́͏⃙⃚⃫͟͡͝⑇̡⃧͠҉⃫̷͜⃢̢̢҉--------------
----------------❇̕
⃒̵̵̸⃒̛̛̀̕ "---------------finally
This ⑈⃚⃤⃓̧guy. I remembe̡͘͜t⃣҉r him. The one who took the money at the door. He always looked slightly remorseful. He brought me food and water regularly. Some rags to cover myself with, once.

What a coincidence that he should be here. I guess his life hasn’t really moved on from that point since then, considering the circumstances. Maybe he ended up feeling a bit too remorseful, if he ended up LIVING here in these conditions. Who would do such a thing?
Humans are weird.

But telļ͏̷̷̷ ̧̀́͢m̛͢e this. What’s the point of feeling remorseful if you continue exactly as you were anyway? Does how you≹̨̡⃣feel about what you’re doing change anything? Isn’t that the exact same as having no conscience, pragmatically?
I can barely stand to look at the disgusting human. It cradles a bottle, snoring and reeking. Its skin is the sickly colour of brimstone, with veiny red spots on its nose and cheeks. It’s all swollen in its marked legs and stomach and barely seems able to breathe in its sleep. He looks wrinkled and repulsive, like all old humans do.
But hey, at least it has a blanket.

I didn’t have a blanket.


You’re at fault.
It’s you. It’s because of you that I ended up like this.

It just makes me so .҈⃓͢angry,⃥⃒̀to see this. So angry. So angry. So angry. Why did you do it?
I take a pair of steps forward and crouch by the opening of the bell.


I poke him in the side. You should wake up.

Hey, ≹̶⃒̡͡҉ẁ̴ą̶ke⋇⃦⃓☈⃓̶̡̛⃧⃧͘͜⃤⃚up.

There is a loud, satisfying crrrack sound when everything around"̕⃢⃢⃙⃤̛ its shoulder first twists all sorts of unnatural ways, then quickly becomes red mist. His arm plops down lifelessly, comically, like a joke prop; exposing ribs, tendons, and a whole lot of meat. Part of the bell nearby becomes shrapnel, too.

It finally wakes, making a lot less noise than I was expecting. I thought it was going to scream, perhaps recognize me, something like that. Instead, it seems to barely react to violently losing a quarter of his torso. All it does is sort of curl in on itself like a dying bug and make gurgling, whining noises.

Really ,̸͜͝͡҉⃢́͟͟annoying noises. I know you had none in life, but couldn’t you die with some dignity?

Would.͠⃤you.҈sh̷͘͢u҉̸̧ţ͘͢ ⃘҉͟ up, plea̸̛͡҉s̵̢e?
He doesn’t.

S̴̢h̛͏҉͜͠u͏҉ţ͡͠͏ up. You sh̸̵̛́̀o̷̡͘͞͡uld shut up.⃒̶̧͡͝͝͠͏ Shut up.

He won’t stop his annoying noises.

So I help him along.
There is a much louder crack[i] noise.


Some two seconds later, I’m completely coated in red, and the room has new decoration. Limbs, fingers, mysterious organs strewn about. The bell and a big chunk of the floor, too, are no more. It’s revolting and it doesn’t even make me feel any better. What was this guy? A complete nobody. Of course it wasn’t his fault. He was a kid, a teenager at the time, not even old enough to fully process what he was doing. All he did was follow orders. The guy who actually had me caught and sealed to begin with lived a long, fulfilling life, I’ll bet.

Isn’t that a wonder? Amazing. What great lives humans must lead, so short that they don’t have to see the consequences of their actions. Haha.
I feel sick to my stomach.


The entire shoddy room shakes as the door crashes out of its hinges with a kick seemingly too powerful to come from the black-and-white’s skinny frame. But that’s exactly who it is.
The fully-equipped witch barges in, triumphantly holding her hat with one hand and grinning furiously. A fiercer expression than I’ve seen on her so far. “A-ha! Did you really think I wouldn’t prepare a backup plan?! I–”

Her grin changes almost instantly into an expression of shock upon seeing me and the room.
“What the hell?” she says. “Here? In the city?”

That’s the part that bothers you? That it happened in the city? That’s funny.
Yeah, I did it. Right here. What do I care? I’m so tired. I’m not even angry anymore, I feel like I just want to lie down and disappear.
Before I can do either of those things, Marisa makes some kind of a weird gesture with her hands and a green glowy magic circle appears, spinning in the air before her. I stare.
“I wasn’t gonna use this, but do you [i]see
what you’ve done? Reimu’s gonna kill me if I just let you go.”

Yeah, I don’t care. Do your wo–

Wait.
I feel something like warmth spreading through my back. Again. And getting worse.
Wait, wait. No, I changed my mind, don’t do your worst. Please. Ple҉̷a̵̛s̸̨͢͟͡e. ⃙⃘̡͝⋬͡͡҉͡PLEA̴̷͏̶̸͙͓̪̪̲̳̳͙̦͎͈̹S̛̛͇̯͚ਊ≹⃧̀̕⃤⃦⃓ ⃒̵̢̛͢͟͠҉̀⑇⃙̢҈̸⃥̛͜͢͢͝͏↹͜҉̷͠҈̢┋⃚͜͜҈⃫⃦⃤⃥̀͡☈⃥̡̢̨́͏⃙⃚⃫͟͡͝⑇̡⃧͠҉⃫̷͜⃢̢̢҉ ҈⃥́͟͟⃣͟͏⃚⃦́͜≸⃥⃦̡⃧͢⃤⃚̶͟͞‡⃣̷⃘̶̷❇⃒̵̵̸⃒̛̛̀̕̕ဪ̡̕͘͟͜––⊞͡҉̨͏̵⃒⃓⃢҈⃣⃓̢́ ҈⃥̵̷⃘̀̕҉͘⃢̧̨͟⑄̛͡͠⌗⃥̵͢҈̷҈⊟⃒̧⃧҈⃧⃣̸⃦̢̛͘ p͡͞H̴̴̕͟͝͞盧̢́ ̕̕͢梏̵̶̡͜ヲ͢͏̧͡@̵̀ニ̸̷̨̀͜͠͞͝͞~̷̢̀͝ヌ̶͘҉̢檎̶̶ヨ ̸̵̕、̡̡̨͜͡・̴̛͟N͘2̕͢ワ͟҉̢g̀͜͠'̧̢́͢・̸̢̧z̢̀͜t̀͜・̴́͡҉̛͘͜͞ ̸̸̢̡́箟̵̨͝À͜҉̵̀҉̸̀͜ー̵̧̢̨́́͠͠・̷̵̢̢̡͢͝͡҉̢̛タ̴ヌ͏̴̡̡̛́͟͠͏͜ァ̷̸́͜ ҉̴̸͏͞{̵̶̛́ム̧͝踞̸̷゚̢̨͘̕͟
鋩́͟・͟・̵̶́M͡͠҉̸ヘ̡͞ヘ̵̀͏̶̸ハ̕͏̨I̡͜!̡͢͡2͏̛͘͢͏̵̢̨͠ ̵̸̵̧̡̡́́͝ ̡͡樓̷̧̀2̶̵͘͜ン̸̴̸̶̧̡̀̀͜€̵̧̧̛͟͢͜͝͠イ̡̧̡͞G̡͝͠͡ ̴̛̀͢O͡҉͢͞M̷͠҉メ̶̡͞t̸̛[҉͝寉̴̶B̸̶̸̸̧ć̸͟F̕͞腰̶̵̶̧̧̀́宕̵̢͜͢レ̵̸̢Ì̛Ŗ̶̵̧̨ ト̸̶̛̕͠・̵̧͟)̸̷͢͝ ̸͠͞琅̧̕͢͡͏慶̷́͢͏̧͝҉́̕͟ケ̸̛́/̵̧̛ロ̀͟͞͠鴬҉̛d̢҉̴҉V̴̷̵̢̛͜͟͞͞L̢҉e̴͏̢、̧̨̢͜,̴̶̸̧̢́͟͢ŗ̧;
̷̡̕͢͞佼̕҉ホ͏̛͞҉{̷҉̸̛懿̴̶͏̕9̸̨̨ ̀҉̨͢W̷̴̵͢・̕͞͠ア̢͟͏̢͜͠'̸̸̛̀͘9̴́͠͡͝͡・̶̀̕҉̧針̷̸̷͡鹿̀͘͟ ̢̛͘0͝g̢̡̨̕a͢҉̢ー̀͏̴͏̵̢̀̀$͝͠͡・̧͘͡x̢͟͟-̨͟͢͝͞湿̴̵͘g̛͜慈̵͟・̶̶̸̵̧̀͜͢͞Ḿ̷̨̕ ͞͏v̢̕͟͠$̵̀͘͞͞6̴̀͟͟͢͢҉̧x̸́͟・͏̴̵̀͢͢イ̸̸̵̧͢͝A̴̷̢͘͝ ͏̕t̵̢͏チ͝͡W̴̧͟͠麭̡́͘͞モ̷̀8̡͢҉̧͢・̨́̀͢8͟͟͟ン̷̸͝F͢͢レ̶̧͢X͞҉・̧t͘͟ ̡͡͡$̶̨̢̢&̨̢͢
D̀́͘͘͝'̶̷̢植h̶̷̢͟i̶̸̴t͢͡u̷͞͝ŗ̸̸̛͡t͟͞͠͡s͜͜͠9̴̸̀̕͢͏̶͘q̧̧͜尋͏́҉̷̡鴫̷̨͠i̶͢͞'̢́͞͝d̸̶̢̛ 嬬͏̷̨͏レ̢̕͘͡仡̸̕袮̶̀͞蚶̴̴̀͘͘͟͟͟͡͠・̷̛́͜͡͞v̸͜氿̸̡́͜͟͜͞͞ミ̡́͘͜活̵̴̡͘͝͞苙̕͏͠ ̴̷̶̀ホ̢̀͞O͏̢̧͞ク̶̨̧̡͘͠ ͢͠<̶́̕̕͡͡͡ ̸̴̷͘͟͜s͞͏̸̷̕涛́͝・͝͡9̸̛҉͠͠緕̢́̕͡j̷́́͠͡)͜8̶́͢͝些̸̴̕͏͘ヌ̴̧͟͟ ハ̴̧͞͡͠F̀̕͝}̷͡͡͡8̴̴<̨̨́͘͟͢・̴̨͞͠͏̸̕͢͡チ̕͠・ ҉̡́̕͜͢͠҉̡͝͏̧͞͞_̢͏̨̕͡ラ͏̶͝
O͘͘͜͢͜C̨͝嫐͏̵̧̡ォ̵̧・͘ヒ͏̵̡̀͢͠ャ͞寞 ̸͝
.҉̵̕3̷̡̛́́͟͡͏̡操̧̛͢͝s̴̸̸̕͡対
・̶̕҉҉̷̨́́͘͘͜͢{̴̡––––––––
C'mon, Koishi, now would be good...
>>14135
That's some intense Zalgo you got going on there, anyone know what is actually being said?
Shit. Well, at least you tried, Koishi.

But yeah wow. Shonen power-up Kisume is scary.
>>14137
Can get jack from that white noise, but I saw something.

IT HURTS

oh boy.
File 142462636793.png - (747.39KB, 900x900, her name is kisume.png) [iqdb]
14140
it hurts

it hurts a lot
its like im being flayed


i can’t see too well
i can’t hear too well
i can’t think too well

it only hurts

i sit up


“How are you still conscious?”

“What are you doing? Are you crazy? Take your broom and run if you enjoy living.”

“Whoa, where the hell did you– wait, a satori? Up here?”

it needs to stop hurting
i dont know how to make it stop hurting
i only know how to hide and run and most recently break things

i end up breaking things
accidentally

the walls mostly go
so does the ceiling
it’s loud when they break apart and fly around

the black-white gets hit
she crumples down into a corner

there is a girl next to me
she yells into my ears
so i can hear her over the things breaking


“STOP!”

im sorry
i cant
my mind itches


“You have to calm down, I can’t help you like this!”

sorry

“No way around it, then.”


ow

two blue tubes are coming out of my stomach and chest
they hurt a lot
there is red on the blue tubes

the floor goes and then the girl next to me

then everything goes
and i’m weightless




there’s an even louder crash
all around
it hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts

i get knocked around

my leg bends weird
my arm gets squished
many heavy things land on me


after a while, things get quiet again
but there are still heavy things on top of me, i’m too weak to get them off

i can sort of breathe
and curl my toes
that's it

  
  
  
  
  
     its dark
  







  
is this ironic?
dying in the rubble of this place

    
  
  
well.
my back doesn’t hurt anymore, but everything else does now

i can spend the time i have left thinking of some things that dont hurt
things that make me happy

There was that

that Koishi
she helped me and made me want to come up here.
even though she ended up stabbing me.
But that wa
s my fault
i liked her

there was the redhead from the red mansion
she helped us too.
i hope
she was alright after that

The shopkeeper and his bird girl, and miss Byakuren, and miss Satori
They were all cool too

isn’t what I was doing stupid?
Just being jealous of my friends for no reason. maybe if I was more open with the two of them...
Parsee must lead a difficult life if it’s like this

that blonde one.
she gave me tasty c
hocolates once, even though I spoiled the occasion.
she was kind to me. She was my friend in the underground for a long time. Once, we had a nice bath together in some hot springs.
I wish I could’ve helped her a little more with her problem.
I really love her.

The other blonde one who looks mean.
she made me heart-shaped cookies.
We drank together. She told me about her worries. I think we made her a little less mean by being around her.
I don’t think I’d have left the underground if it weren’t for her coming with me.
And I really love her, too.


Oh no.
I'd finally gotten a little better. Found some friends for me, even up here in the surface. I wanted to live here with everyone.

I feel my eyes tearing up. And I just told that guy to die with some dignity, too.


Can’t I…
Can’t I have a little more time?


What a waste.
I didn't even need to get unsealed or whatever it was.


I try to move, but even with monumental effort I can still only squeeze my fingers. Breathing hurts. I’m still leaking blood.


I don’t want to die.


I’m shivering. I can’t see anymore.
I think the sun has set outside.
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There’s a muffled noise.
With all my strength, I manage to raise my eyelids enough to see.

Ah.
I knew you’d both show up.
You shouldn’t cry, though. It was a fun enough few weeks, wasn’t it?

I feel a pair, two pairs of arms around me. It's familiar warmth on both accounts.
I smile.










–––––

End.

Except for the epilogue, which is important.
If this doesn't have a happy ending I'm gonna be so miffed.
I can't tell if that previous vote actually made any difference.
So many feels...

The wait for the epilog is going to kill me. Thanks for writing all of this so far, I've been here since the start and it's been a great trip.
Does anybody have a soundtrack recommendation for this ending?
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Hello everyone!
My name is Koishi, of the Komeiji! Komeiji as in 古 for “ancient”, 明 for “bright” and 地 for “earth”; and Koishi as in “ko”, “i” and “shi”. I am many-many-many-years-old and my number one most favourite thing in, under or above the land is my sister, who I love more than anyone or anything! She’s wise, warm, lovely, great, kind, and loves me almost as much as I love her. Some of my other favourite things right now are: black tea, chatting with Sister, spooking tiny humans, reading fairy tales, kissing Sister, wooden buddha figurines, swimming in the lake, watching the red mansion’s gardener and biting sister. Only hard enough to leave my mark, of course!

I toss another pebble down the side of the mountain. It goes toc, toc, toc then disappears into the trees below.

Man, it’s an amazing view from up here. On one side, beyond the dense Youkai Forest is the majestic Scarlet Devil Mansion in a little forested island sitting atop the dark Misty Lake. It’s not that misty today. The blood red mansion itself takes up a good half of the entire island with its handful of windows, jet black fences and the great clock tower rising above. The head maid in that place makes amazing strawberry cake, I recommend it.
On my other side, also beyond a stretch of forest is the continually growing human village offshoot, like a big brown and grey pimple growing on the landscape. Some of those buildings are getting to be pretty tall, too! What is that, three stories? Humans sure are industrious little buggers, with their shops and food and beers. I feel a sudden urge to go and see the markets and all that, but it’s gone in an instant. I remember I don’t want to be anywhere close to a human city after that incident a few months ago.
Yes, of course it was stressful to me too! It’s not like I wanted to hurt my pet, but there was a choice to be made and I made it. Marisa is much, much more fragile than any of us. Besides, at the time I didn’t think what I was doing would be that big of a deal to a strong youkai like her.


Shows what I know. I bet being in the middle of a breakdown didn’t help.
Uuugh, I’m thinking about it again. I bolt upright, scrunch my hat, pace angrily up and down the lonely crag, clench my teeth. This sucks. It’s been months, get over it already! I stomp and kick about to get it out of my system before settling back down on my rock.

Ah well. Saving Marisa let the rest of us get away scot free, since she vouched for us when the fuming shrine maiden showed up. We would’ve all gotten exterminated — for real exterminated — otherwise. She doesn’t appreciate buildings in the village she’s sworn to protect being violently torn apart in tornados filled with colourful lights or random people being brutally murdered in the middle of Gensokyo’s human stronghold. It was lucky for us that the rubble mostly hid the guts away from the villagers’ attention.

An unpleasant experience, all in all. I don’t enjoy stabbing people, you know? Especially not with my tentacley artery things, It feels all creepy.
Have you ever tried digging into a big slab of raw meat with your bare hands?
Yeah. Yeesh.


toc, toc, another pebbles goes down and plufts into the canopy below.

The sky is a perfect cloudless blue. Sky-blue. The (not) endless rolling green fields of Gensokyo spread out to the horizon, dotted with patches of trees and streams here and there. Lovely, but it doesn’t make me happy like usual. Neither does the warm sun on my skin.
I take off my hat and fiddle with it. Bite my lip.

I feel melancholy today. Nervous? Contemplative?
Odd, yeah. I feel odd today.

I’ve already recharged my Satori Batteries recently, I don’t feel like going down there again so soon. What to do?
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Right! I can visit the new residents of the mountain, they should be close by. Haven’t seen them in a month or two. I pull my hat back over my unruly hair and set off towards the foot of the mountain.

There isn’t even enough time to appreciate the postcard-worthy landscape; it’s a quick flight, the home they built is just a few minutes from the entrance to the underground, a ways up from the bottom. I don’t know how they convinced the tengu, but if they already tolerate a whole city this close, a single house might not be a big stretch. The sturdy building of stone and wood sits comfortably in a more or less flat piece of land, overlooking the new village. Youkai Mountain isn’t that steep, so plateaus at the side of the mountain aren’t uncommon this close to the bottom. Makes for a nice place for a home. The house itself reminds me of Parsee’s, near the bottomless pit. Unpainted and kind of rough, but a cute place. It has a chimney, proper windows and everything. I think the oni helped build.

I land on the soft grass. They’re taking care of this too? Cool! Like a lawn. Ooh, they have some clothes out to dry.
Parsee sure wears some fancy clothes. I wonder if they’d suit me? I’ve always liked that red trim, whatever it is.

Wait! That’s not what I’m here for, is it? There are more interesting matters at hand! Focus, Koishi.
I should be in time for lunch, if the delicious smell of chicken and the smoke rising from the chimney are any indication. I put the long skirt back on the clothesline and invite myself inside. There’s no lock on the front door.


Homely and refreshing!
The hall has all you’d ever need: nice warm sunlight, a big dining table, bookshelf, a desk to one side, a sofa, even a pretty black cast iron cooking stove with its already-boiling pots and the big pipe leading up to the chimney. It’s bare in decorations since they just built it, but I wouldn’t think twice about living here. A corridor in the back leads to the rest of the rooms in the house, few as they are.
Of course, the most important feature in the hall is the very housewife-y Yamame. In an apron, shorts and a simple top, hair in a ponytail, busying herself at the dishes and humming a song while she shakes her butt. Aw, just looking at her makes me want a wife for myself too.

As a matter of fact…

[i]SLAP[i]

Wow, firmer than expected! She jumps and yelps, as she should. Kehehe, I’m not sorry for that, and I’m not sorry that I’m not sorry. She looks around but finds no culprit, and so goes back to washing after some confusion.

I spot a few black lines — on her shoulders, just peeking out of the top. Which brings me back to a place I didn’t want to go.
Yeah, I remember now. That’s how this one decided to solve her own problem. She had to beg Reimu for the work, which I couldn’t stand to watch. Honestly, that’s something I’d never do. Look at her now: weak as a human, can’t fly, can’t poison anyone, can barely shoot danmaku. It’s a heavy price to pay, but it’s the way she found.
I’ve noticed this recurring problem with intelligent youkai: they often end up at odds with their nature, same as Parsee and Yamame. Each one ends up coping in their own way. Part of the youkai condition, maybe.

Personally I’d never do anything that crazy just to run away from a natural consequence of my youkai abilities. That’s something only a completely mad person would do!

She seems glad enough so it’s not my place to question the decision. It’s still a stupid move, though.
I jump on the comfy couch and stretch out to wait for the meal.


Parsee stumbles into the hall hunched over, appropriately disheveled for someone just waking up if it weren’t around midday already. Shameful! The early bird gets the worm, little Parsee. She groans, to which Yamame responds with a chirpy ‘Good morning!’
And then they kiss.

Scandalous!
Too bad it was only a good morning smooch. Not fair, I want one too.

“Food?” Parsee grumbles out.

“In a few minutes,” Yamame answers.

Parsee is dealing with everything a bit better, and without needing such an extreme measure as Yamame. All she had to do was let people get close, and the rest is learning live life happily even being a dick. She’s lucky she found anyone willing to get close in the first place.
Why yes, I do keep track of people when I can. It’s fun!

She collapses into a chair and rests her head on the table. Her hair splays out.


I smile at the peaceful family scene.
But it’s still missing something, isn’t it?

Or someone.
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I rub my eyes as I limp into the hall, wakened and attracted by the smell of food. ’Good morning’s are exchanged. Yamame calls me over to give me a kiss on the cheek, a hug and a rub of the head, like every other morning. I plop down on a chair next to a snoring Parsee.

“You really should try to stop sleeping on your books. What if you drool in your sleep and ruin them?” Yamame says while she carries the pots over to the table. Boiled chicken, bought from the village. Vegetables, rice. Smells nice.

“Nn.”

“Honestly. How do you even fall asleep sitting like that?”

“Nn.”

It’s the usual talk. The usual day, since I took off my last bandages. Took months until then, though. Unheard of for a youkai to take so long to heal.

When the food arrives, Parsee goes upright slowly, like a zombie.


We eat, but that day, the food ran out faster than usual.

I wonder why.
_________________

Kiss Me
True end.
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A few words from your writer.
I enjoyed writing this, but obviously, there were a few problems even I felt.

Again I lost track of the main focus and took the main plot in a direction that wasn’t the main draw of the story. Again I didn’t plan out my ending well enough, and it ended up anti-climactic. I don’t think it’s actually that huge a deal, since this story was really more about the character interactions and ‘episodic’ happenings than the overarching plot, but you still want your ending to be good anyway, damn it. Felt my prose and typing decay over the story due to simple lack of patience and focus writing updates. Even this epilogue was barely proofread.


I don’t have all that much to say about this story but at least I don’t regret it like my first one. A+ would write again.

Next up is either a Seija story or a Nitori story after a break, I’m still deciding. Haven’t decided whether I’m writing that /at/ side-scene either. To be honest, I’m leaning towards not doing it.

Cheers guys, see you soon. Feel free to ask whatever, even though I don't think there's much to ask about.
>>14154
The epilogs felt like it was straight out of the games, simple yet satisfying. Thanks for running this, it was fun!
Yay! A successfully completed story! You had me worried there a couple times, what with those long breaks, but you made it in the end. Congratulations!

Loved this story from beginning to end. Your interpretation of Kisume was cute and always tried her best, I was always rooting for her, a sign of good character. Not only her, but all the characters you addressed in the story were very interesting.

I like that there's a bit of ambiguity at the end of whether Kisume can talk normally or not now. Well, at least we know she is free from the bucket.

Now for a question: I'm curious, what would Alice had been like had we voted to go to her house instead of Marisa's?
I am super disappointed. Ambiguous endings are awful unless you earn them, and this story didn't.
>>14157
Ambiguous? That wasn't the intention.
The first 'ending', sure, but I thought I made it very clear-cut in the epilogue. Specifically the last post. It's a straightforward happy ending.

>>14156
I don't know, I didn't think about it since she didn't win the vote. She'd be a weirdo, too, just in a different way. I don't think you'd get to become a magician without something seriously off in your head, so that's why I wrote Patchouli and Marisa that way.
What was the actual difference between
[ ] Now is the time to do something!
and
[ ] Watch on for a while longer. She deserves this much.
?

Although the former won, it seems like it defaulted to the latter.
While I liked the story very much the ending felt kinda rushed compared to how things went before.

All in all a good story though, I enjoyed it very much. Keep it up!
>>14159
The answer to that is that I fucked it up. I had a proper response to that choice thought up but when I actually stopped to write it out, it just didn't work out for multiple reasons. I didn't want to lose my groove by thinking about it too long and delaying the update, so I fudged it.

This happened a few times in this story, actually. Sorry guys.
I thought this was a lovely story and I will definitely reread it later.
>>14176
Agreed, in fact, I'm going to go back reread it now.
I liked it.
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