- [Settings] [Home
[Show or hide post box]

[Return] [Entire Thread] [Last 50 posts] [First 100 posts] [Bottom]
Posting mode: Reply
Subject   (Reply to 15173)
Password  (for post and file deletion)
  • First time posting? See our frontpage for site rules and FAQ
  • Further overview of board culture in this thread.
  • Supported file types are: GIF, JPG, PNG, WEBM
  • Maximum file size allowed is 4096 KB.
  • Images greater than 200x200 pixels will be thumbnailed.
  • View catalog

File 148115700448.jpg - (724.49KB, 924x1265, 59638022_p4.jpg) [iqdb]
15173 No. 15173
Wherein Yamame Kurodani realises a few things.
212posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 15660
Alternate story title: Banki is (finally) in This Story.
>> No. 15661
Saw Sexybank-ii and immediately clicked. What's goin on in this thread?
>> No. 15662
File 151027290799.jpg - (207.44KB, 850x1717, __sekibanki_touhou_drawn_by_hitotsuki_nebura__samp.jpg) [iqdb]

This, newest acquaintance sealed – sealed away, if nothing else – Yamame Kurodani rethreaded her attention with more liquid matters.

Yamame’s human, once planted beside her on the bench, rotated one of the tankards handle-wise toward the spinstress, and pushed it out, until she grabbed at it and took it away. The drinks – and Yamame did not preclude a divine interference in this – had someway retained their full caps of hissing white foam, even throughout Paran’s loose interpretation of her advice. The drink beneath was a vivid brown of damp tree-bark. Yamame dipped an experimental finger in the foam. She licked it down. The taste, at first, was hoppy and bitter over all; but then, a sweeter after-note misted up inside her mouth, and Yamame’s enthusiasm was fully piqued.

Paran, who had watched her put these cautious steps forward, asked her from the side, “How is it, then?”

Yamame wiped the sticky finger on her overalls. “We’ll find out in full measure in a bit,” she told him. “Anyway, say. Are there any… mm, rituals, for before drinking, here?”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, you know – like, where we live, the… um.” Yamame glanced sidelong warily. Huddled on the opposite edge of the table, Grumpy – hands joined into a steeple in front of her ruddy eyes – appeared to have forgotten either of them had ever existed in any perceivable manner. All the same, an earth spider erred always on caution’s side. “Where we live, our… our big friends, they have these things. These things, like, when they throw their cups down after the first sip. Only then they go on to drink normally – from new ones. I think it’s supposed to stand for something. I couldn’t tell you what, though; I could never catch any sober enough to tell me while I still remembered.”

Paran’s expression curdled a little. “I don’t know that the proprietor would agree.”

“That’s why I asked if you had any ideas. I’m not a… well, one of our big friends,” Yamame closed up lamely. “I’ll content myself with fitting in. I just want to know how.”

“… Hmm.” Paran tapped on the thick handle of his tankard pensively for a moment or two. “A friend of mine did use to do this thing,” he then admitted. “He would shoo us away our glasses, until it was decided to what we were drinking that day. He would let us drink then, but not before.”

Once again, Yamame Kurodani clamped down on the unaccountable ache of hearing her human speak on friends of his that weren’t her. Almost, and she would have mistaken this as the first time such an emotion had stuck in her heart; but it wasn’t, and she clamped down even harder so. She kept her efforts overlaid by an indulging smile. “… What did you drink to, usually?”

“This is the queer part,” said Paran. “Nothing much elaborate. Weather, health, luck. Whatever occurred, so the rest of us could get to our drinks quicker in fact.” His shoulders lifted sarcastically. “But he was bigger than any of us, and took his drinking at importance.”

“Anything more… general? Something you do, perhaps?”

“Ah. Well… There is this.”

Paran gripped the handle of his tankard fully around, and raised it up. At his nodded behest, Yamame did the same. Then, Paran’s arm slithered deftly under hers; it looped around, until they were coiled together – like the links of an especially soft chain. The spinstress nonetheless found it easy to access her drink; though she nursed no illusion the pose would become tiresome soon, if kept up.

“And then we take the first sip,” explained her human. “Only one, usually. And we don’t throw.”

Yamame chuckled her relief. “And what does this stand for, again?”

“Who can say?” Paran made a careful shrug. “It’s a ritual. It probably has no meaning.”

Some of our rituals do mean things,” Yamame pointed out. “Or do they?”

The question dangled between them on a fine string, until Yamame herself did not know why she’d asked it to begin with.

At length, Paran blew it aside with a sigh. “… Yes,” he granted. “Yes, Yamame. They do. Though this—” he looked to his drink meaningfully, “I cannot speak for this. I just don’t know. Sorry.”

“That’s fine,” Yamame excused him. “And you’re fine, too. Never mind that.” She gave her human another smile. “Well, then? To what?”

Paran rolled his eyes. “Spare me.”

“Why?” she moaned. “I said I wanted to fit in. This is all you gave me to work with. It’s not really my fault if I use it, is it? Or,” she speculated, her lips quirking down, “is it too difficult to come up with anything when it’s with me?”

Her favourite human made a pained sound. “… That’s not it.” He fixed the hold on his tankard. “Yes, I’ve never drunk with you before now. I realise. I had a reason.”

“But you drank with Ashi.”

“I had a reason,” Paran insisted.

Yamame frowned. She irrationally disliked the word. “And what’s that supposed to be?”

“You’ll figure it out,” her human told her. “You’ll figure it out, Yamame – if you think on it a little.” Then, before she could actually do think at any length, he pushed forward a suggestion. “Confusion to Hijiri?”

That, despite the swelling irritation, set her to giggling again. “I don’t know! She hasn’t paid us yet, has she? Would that be wise?”

Paran made a grimace. “My arm’s getting tired, Yamame.”

“Oh, well. Very good. Confusion to Hijiri, then.”

As one, they leaned in, and drank of the frothy ale.

Yamame’s favourite human – who had disengaged from his tankard with a full set of wizened white moustache – discreetly unlooped their arms, even as Yamame rolled the drink appraisingly in her mouth. Her initial impression had not lied, and the drink was hoppy first of all; but here as well, the sweet, fruity after-taste – even more pronounced in the liquid than it had been in the foam – was in full and delightful evidence. Yamame swallowed it down and purred happily.

“All good?” Paran asked. He had watched her reactions this time as well. “Old ‘keep here,” he went on at her nod; “he orders strong barley wine from the brewers, but waters it down and puts slices of dried apples in a few weeks before serving. That’s the sweet after you are tasting.”

“It’s delicious!” Yamame chirped. “A mite weaker than I’ve been used to – but a looot smoother. It goes down so easily! Those apples are a streak of genius.” The spinstress touched her tankard fondly, like she would an old friend. “A lot cooler than I’d expected, too. I wonder how.”

“Ah!” Paran snapped his fingers. “That, I do know.”

Yamame smiled even wider, and propped her chin on her hands. “Tell.”

She watched, happy all over, as her human drew once more from his own drink. Then, putting it down, he began to trace meaningless shapes in a wet patch on the table. “There is a fitting under the bar,” he explained, “with pipes which go down into the cellar, where the kegs are stored. The barkeep steps on a pedal for a small bellows, which are under the floor; this pushes air down one of the pipes, which is plugged into to a keg. The keg is air-tight, so the pressure pumps the drink out the other opening, which goes into the other pipe. That comes back up to the tap.”

“Clever,” Yamame approved.

“Convenient,” agreed Paran. “Anyway, the kegs – those ones that are connected at the time – are stored inside a casket filled with ice. That is how the drinks are so cool.”

Yamame was surprised. “Ice? It’s not even the end of Summer. Where did they get ice?”

“And therein’s another convenience. See, they do not collect the ice. They make it. A vat is filled with clear ground water, and they mix in a certain white powder… which I cannot in honesty tell you what it is. They use it for pyrotechny, as well – in fireworks and such.”

“Saltpetre,” guessed the earth spider. “Stands to reason. It is made from… Um. Never mind what it’s made from. Go on.”

Paran lifted a brow at her questioningly, but continued, “All right. Well, they pour it in the vat. The whole bog steams for a good time; but afterwards, the water is left a cold slurry. They add in saw-dust, and it all becomes a kind of iced mud that refuses to melt. They pack it into caskets, chisel out a slot for the keg, and store it all in a cellar. This slows the melting even further. I am told, if the casket is kept closed at all times – less when switching out the kegs – it can last weeks, or even months. All in the name of removing the coin from honest folks, who would prefer the poison they pour down their throats leastwise take away some of the Summer’s heat.” He sniffed. “It’s all very tragic when you boil it down.”

“… Paran?”


Yamame Kurodani did not answer immediately. She reached out, and absently peeled the foam-moustache from under her human’s nose with the back of her hand.

“I like it so much when you talk to me,” she told him.

Nor did the human reply at first. No. Only he stared on, unblinking, on the silly, old earth spider, who – for some unknowable reason – treasured him above every other human there was. A pale, red flush was working up his jaw; and, Yamame thought, it was too early yet for the drink to have been the source.

“… I’m—” Paran said reluctantly, “I’m bad. With words.”

“No.” Yamame shook her head. “No. When you do get into it, you’re good. Very, very good.”

“Well,” Paran breathed, “I didn’t—”

Across the table, the hitherto quiet Grumpy hawked tumultuously. She straightened up, groaned, and gulped down what had come up, with no less noise. Then, she went right back to steepling.

Yamame’s favourite human, now fully a-blush, cleared out his own throat. Although, in his defence, his had not been nearly so clogged. His stare darted to the wet smear on the table.

“… Well,” he murmured. “… Right?”

Yamame Kurodani, whose own cheeks wondrously kept from smoking, made a shy nod. “Mhm,” she conceded. “Right…”

And so they drank, for a time, in embarrassed silence – inasmuch, anyway, as silence may survive in any place of drinking and surfeit for long.

Nor did it. And it was again a male voice, which minutes later tugged their heads back up to attention.

“Seki,” said the voice.

Though not Paran’s; nor even did it belong to the hoary barkeep. Yamame Kurodani looked, then, beside their table – where saw yet another human standing in wait.

At once her spinstress’s eyes were drawn to the sleeves of the arrival’s spacious robe: many-layered, each one cut shorter than the one below; and varicoloured – each framed in a different hue: red, green and yellow, going inwards. On the outside, the newcomer wore a plain, woollen cape, as long as the knees, designed to keep the weather off at the cost of appearance.

“Seki,” he let out his voice again.

Yamame’s eyes startled farther up. The arrival’s face was messy, unshaved. Its features were crooked faintly into a mocking – and visibly habituated – set of a man whose heart has, across his life, learned to distil cynicism into lifeblood. His eyes were dark – circled with shadows – and…

… And they were trained exclusively on the red woman on the other side of the table.

“Sekibanki,” the man spoke for the third time, with a note of defeated finality.

As though only then registering her company had gained up, the red-headed woman lifted her glass – and flushed the remaining contents down her gullet in a single, almost barbarous dip.

She thunked her glass down. Then, she glared up at the newcomer.

“… You are late.

The man spread out his wide-sleeved arms. Then, quickly, he covered them up again, as if the gesture had been entirely unwitting. “Ceremony prolonged. My Lady’s thought. Not mine.” He nudged his head, never looking, in the direction of Yamame and her human. “Your friends?”

Grumpy (or was Sekibanki her real name?) scowled hideously. “I don’t have those.”

She shuffled out to the end of the bench, and stood up.

“Sekibanki?” the robed man questioned.

“My place,” Grumpy (?) growled at him, clawing under her collar. “I’ve had it with people tonight.”

“And drinks?”

Sake can be taken warm. I have some left over. Shut up and walk.

And then, neither of them so much as acknowledging anyone else than one another, they weaved across the taproom, and out the exiting door.

At the utmost moment, as her glowering scarlet hair winked out behind the frame, something – something insubstantial, but vital all the same – seemed to flake away from “Sekibanki’s” blood-red core; and Yamame recognised all at once who – what – the lonely townswoman had truly been, all along. The door slammed shut behind her, frightening the nearby patrons.

Yamame Kurodani, the great architect of the Underworld – and she who had seldom been ignored so utterly prior to tonight – twisted around to look at her own, less messy human.

Paran, though he hadn’t to twist like she had, looked right back at her.

“… We’ve interrupted something,” he guessed, “haven’t we?”

“How do you figure?” asked Yamame.

“I have a hunch.”

The spinstress giggled at the reply. “Snake! I was joking, you know? I’m not that silly. Yes, I guess we have. A little late to apologise now. On the bright side, they left us the table. What sort of clothes were those, anyway? On the human, I mean.”

Paran’s brows scrunched up. “… ‘The human?’”

“The male,” Yamame clarified. “The female – Grumpy? – she was a youkai. I’m not sure what kind, but… she was. I hadn’t noticed myself, until just now.” She smiled. “Someone was distracting me, I think.”

Her human let the sally bounce off of his frown, and digested the news. “… I suppose this is that sort of place,” he gave up. “So? What about the clothes?”

“The sleeves on his robe. They were weird. As if he was wearing several, and every one was a different colour. Yellow, green, and then red, outwards… Is that significant in any way? It felt deliberate.”

Paran thought it over. Then, his forehead became an even greater wasteland of wrinkles. “Those are Toyosatomimi’s colours.”


Toyosato—” He waved the name away on a second consideration. “A Taoist saint. Hijiri’s competition, actually. Though between the two, that one’s requirements are rather more stringent. No youkai, for one. Anyway, those colours you saw are flown as a rule by her acolytes. Maybe the order denotes rank. I wouldn’t know.”

“So that means…”

Her human sketched a mock sign against evil with his hand. “That means we saw a Taoist priest leaving this dive – with a youkai woman in tow.” He gasped with faked outrage. “That has to be heresy.”

Yamame grinned. “What’s Gensokyo coming to?”

Paran snorted. “What is it, indeed? At least, we shouldn’t need to worry after his making it through the night.” Then, less humorously, he added, “Maybe.”

He drowned his last guess in a hefty draught of ale.

Yamame, following his lead, washed down her own next thought.

A priest and a youkai, it was. Scandalous.

And yet, blasphemous beyond all doubt though such a match was…

… Why, exactly, did it sound so familiar and threadbare?

>> No. 15663
You know, I generally find that making a big deal out of the word 'love' and corresponding declaration is very silly. However, I'm going to need advance warning when it comes in this story, or risk a very embarrassing death by heart attack.
>> No. 15664
This update was so well done, that I really want to go to a pub and start drinking. Too bad I don't have friends though.

I miss London. At least there, you can make conversation with whatever guy is on the bar. Even if daddy govt forces us to go home early.
>> No. 15665
This is the talkiest Paran so far. I like it, they're just so cute together.

...praying that there'll be no sudden dark twist.
>> No. 15666
File 151028820961.png - (18.23KB, 471x153, latest.png) [iqdb]
A taoist showing up may be a sign of life from the poor neglected plot, if previous speculation that the letter was faked by futo was correct.
>> No. 15667
File 151034382157.jpg - (223.24KB, 630x570, bankitude.jpg) [iqdb]
You can’t stop here. This is spider country!

Really, why aren’t I writing a Sekistory?…
>> No. 15668
There are so many incredible things in this update I don't know where to look. It has Yams, Banki, MYSTERIOUS PLOT HOOKS and an impromptu history lesson on the cooling of beverages using the power of !!SCIENCE!!.

Oh, and it also has a cute couple up to their regularly-scheduled slice-of-life antics. Certifiably cute enough to make a dullahan barf.

You're wrecking my facial muscles, you know that?
>> No. 15669
> “I like it so much when you talk to me,” she told him.
Hnnggggh! Somebody give me insulin!

> “Yes, I’ve never drunk with you before now. I realise. I had a reason.”
I'm assuming the reason is that he's a talky drunk, and he's embarassed to be seen like that in front of the girl he liked? Or is there something else I'm missing?
>> No. 15670
File 151046989017.png - (147.64KB, 381x252, 2017-07-05_07:16.png) [iqdb]
The guy has clearly been having issues with self-control around Yamame from the very beginning, hanging on to some weird notion of 'property' every step of the way to slow himself down. It's probably all he can do. And, well, alcohol is known to lower inhibitions.

That's my guess, at least.
>> No. 15671
So he's been holding himself back because he's aware that Yamame is inexperienced with romance stuff, and he don't want to take advantage of that, right? His insistence on propriety is so that Yamame may understand all this lovey-dovey stuff, and that if she were to take things further, she will have the full knowledge of what exactly she's doing.
>> No. 15672
That... may be one reason, but that alone would be too naive, I think.
Consider the reason Paran is even doing this whole thing in the first place and the hints to his backstory. A capable, sane human like him simply doesn't end up in an uncomfortable hole in the ground helping a youkai that could kill you twenty times over in the span of a minute for no pay and no benefits. It's likely he has some kind of angle of his own, and getting attached to Yamame will hinder it. Or, Yamame being attached to him will hinder it. Maybe it will involve a betrayal of some kind, or he'll just have to leave the underground for good at some point.

It's something to do with his god, I'll bet my left testicle on it.
>> No. 15673
File 151052870591.png - (1.79MB, 1378x2039, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_moss_sphere211__.png) [iqdb]

They capped off their tankards inside the next minutes; and Yamame’s human, wheezing dramatically, hauled himself upright from the table. The richer of the two that he was, it fell to him, by ancient tradition, to refill their drinks. Thus was Paran uprooted from his seat. Thus he seized their empty tankards, and carried them again to the ale-giving spring at the bar. Thus was Yamame Kurodani left, if only for the trice, alone with her thoughts. In this enforced moment of solitude, she allowed those thoughts to ungenerously loop inwards.

With a tiny jolt of surprise, she realised she was enjoying herself immensely.

There was something to say for that. Yamame liked drinking, and no lie; her days spent among the Oni in the Capital (at least, those she had not worked) which had lacked for a bottle of this or that drink could be modestly counted on a few hands. The red-skinned Oni partied as a matter of fact, not celebration; and to say their boiling blood was half sake (and other half fisticuffs) would be but a quarter lie. Yamame had given those years, then – which she had later realised had been formative in her civilised life – to these parties, much as she had to her flowering craft. The eldest of the earth spiders had so soaked up of the Oni and their ways, it was a wonder her head hadn’t sprouted horns, and her fangs were still sheathed elegantly under her lips.

But there were no Oni here. The taproom was noisy on the whole, yes – but it wasn’t tempestuous. There were no brawls being brawled atop the tables or below; there were no cups shattered ritualistically underfoot. Nobody was crowing their war-deeds at clamorous volume; whoever of the patrons who did boast did so in contained circles. The drinks had been made to taste, not to fold one’s insides like a map; and Yamame, who would by now have been (rather literally) roaring drunk on principle, only found a thin film of happiness clouding up her thoughts.

To divine why would have been as easy as avoiding a cow pie.

And yet, while cow pies are customarily easy to go around, one does not always succeed in the end. Nor had Yamame at all finished divining when, with a dull clunk, the second round of drinks was placed before her on the table. Her human clambered over the bench and sat down heavily.

“Thank yooou,” Yamame crooned, reaching out for her share.

And then, she went rigid up to the roots of her hair when her hand was pinned to the buffed table-top. Her deepest-sewn instincts pounded up to the surface of her skin. Her fingers, raking, curled up into vicious claws.

… Until, feeling rather sheepish, they flattened out again when Yamame’s human kissed her full on the lips, and she yielded all over.

“… I’ve waited for this,” he breathed, once they had separated.

Yamame Kurodani, mother of plagues, the yearly malady, cast around the room in a nervous search for spying eyes bent on stripping her of her oldest titles. None were prying openly. Yamame, hugging her rescued authority close to her chest, turned then on her human.

“Waiting for what?” she complained. “To embarrass me? Again? It hasn’t even been that long, you know.”

Paran indulged her sulking with a smile. “No,” he told her. “I’ve been waiting to kiss you. That’s all.”

“In that case,” she replied hotly, “In that case, we could have done that any time! Why here? What is it with you and your conveniently inexpressible urge to touch me in front of strangers?”

“Would in front of Hijiri have been better?” Paran asked. “Or in front of your sisters? Or perhaps while you were working? This was the first good chance.”

“And when we were alone in our room?” Yamame wanted to know. “Wasn’t that a good moment?”

“… Not very good.”


“… Because,” sighed Paran, “Because then, it wouldn’t end there. I really… really had been waiting.”

Yamame Kurodani, the eldest among the earth spiders, instantly sewed for herself a beautiful cloak of injured pride and heated accusations. In the very next instant, she had aged enough again to find it didn’t look as attractive anymore.

Who cares, anyway? she asked herself inside. Who cares? Ashi knows you do these things already – she has told you to do them – and she isn’t even visible from where you’ve seated your silly butt. And were these humans all around so important? Was Yamame Kurodani, she who had lived among the Oni and still had secrets, going to build an angry fortress to defend against a single indiscretion?

She had but to think how much she wanted him to kiss her again, to understand that, no – she wasn’t.

“… So, you invited me out here,” she theorised aloud. “To occupy ourselves with something else. In a place where you can afford not to look at me. To keep your dear propriety unstained.”

Paran looked ashamed. “… More or less.”

Yamame had to laugh. “You’re impossible! As good you don’t meddle with my projects; if I told you to design a bridge, it’d end up looping around three times before it came to the other end.”

“… Sorry.”

“But you still want to kiss me… right?”

Her human looked even guiltier. “… Yes.”

“You’re impossible.” Yamame shook her head. “My dear sisters are more honest than you, and I wouldn’t trust them to throw a die without two sixes. If I had been an Oni, I’d knock you. I mean, look at you. You lead me out here. You have me drink. You make me feel really good; you say this is a good chance; you say that you want to kiss me. And then? You stare at me – like I’m too stupid to understand what you just said.”

“You’re not stupid, Yamame.”

“Then why are you not kissing me?” she demanded.

Altogether, it had not been very subtle.

Altogether, Yamame Kurodani would never attest to spinning webs from thread this thick. Altogether, if anyone asked, Yamame Kurodani had it on very good expertise this web had been spun by someone else: a younger, less accomplished spider; as well, it could have been spun by a human – just blundering into the craft, too thick of fingers, and too clumsy to manage a finer material.

But it worked. It worked, and that mattered for everything in Yamame’s mind; and something passed behind her human’s dumb eyes, even as they realised the trap he had sprung.

Might be, those were his human’s instincts thrashing about. Might be, it was Paran thrashing them, for they always reined him in short. Might be, it weren’t his instincts but himself he was thrashing – if for nothing else then for bringing Yamame’s hair, neck and legs (and the rest of her) out here, to this public place – over the dim privacy of the room they had been given for the night, where awful, propriety-staining things could have happened to those legs without an audience on-looking and on-drinking. Might be, Yamame had seen none of those things passing behind his eyes, and had imagined them entirely. The one absolute remained – that it had worked, and her human was wedging the fingers on her trapped hand apart, until his own were once more mixed among them.

And then, that he was kissing her again.

Across the following moments, Yamame’s world heaved, wrinkled, and shrank, not unlike a loop of yarn pulled tight on a crochet. It narrowed at first to but the few surrounding tables. Then, it withered down to just their own. Soon, and it was only their bench which counted; finally – and everything was elsewhere and far away. All that remained was Yamame, her silly face, her human’s silly face, and her human – silly enough to trust a youkai, an earth spider, this near, and communicating this trust so.

He paused the kiss, exhaling. His breath was hoppy, like their drinks had been. Then, he kissed her yet again: first on just the corner of her lips, then fully in the middle. Maybe he had misaimed with his eyes closed. Yamame, her own eyes shut in total confidence, could not say. She began to trim away from coincidence when he went through the same entire manoeuvre a second time.

“… This is your fault,” he whispered during another such pause.

Yamame had barely managed to clamp her mouth after asking, “What is?” when he was kissing it again.

“This,” Paran murmured meaninglessly. “All of this is. It’s all your fault.”

Am I so evil? Yamame wondered inside. But if evil had rewards like these, then, for the moment, she did not wish to be anything else.

But then the moment, too, was over. With a titanic effort, her human dragged himself free. He dragged and dragged, until, at long last, his eyes were a whole one hand-span away from hers. Yamame’s ears hammered; and she was dazed by how hard the returned din of the taproom throbbed inside of her head. She was choked, and – she discovered – not a little out of breath.

Somehow, by pure strength of a spider’s will, she persuaded her chest to allow in a change of air. Then, she released it in a hot, shuddering blast.

“… You really had been waiting, huh,” she admitted.

Ahead of her, Paran’s face squelched tragically. Yamame laughed.

>> No. 15675
File 151053096317.jpg - (360.49KB, 900x1440, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_mikami_yuuki_nl8.jpg) [iqdb]

It never mattered after that where they were anymore.

The eldest, most feared of Underworld’s spiders had climbed up, and pushed shamelessly out at her human, until he – who had very nearly sucked her lips off the front of her face – slid far enough out on the bench to let her slot in sideways onto his lap. Most pleased – about the lap, if not the lips – the spider had then taken up her drink again, and drank, all the while she had relayed the events of the past week to her envoy as it was dutifully required.

If Paran had assumed he would be prodded about his imputations of fault, then throughout the evening he must have had another colony of thinks coming. Though Yamame had been curious, and no lie; but to satisfy this curiosity meant dusting off an argument she and her human had been having for near on a month now. Yamame Kurodani did not dust arguments with others close by. The rising motes were certain to cause an uncomfortable cough. She had other ways of getting coughs anyway, had she but felt the need.

Asking that her human kiss her again each time he returned with new drinks, for one. He had been coughing before the third round had rolled in.

Another three rounds later, and their evening had rolled over to an abrupt end; and Paran, standing up to make good of his established function, quite casually attempted to kiss the floor rather than Yamame. The keg of apple-barley wine assigned for the night had run dry before too long; and the spinstress had called for stronger drink to take over the vacancy. The last round had rather plainly pushed her human away from tipsiness and over into tipping. So Yamame, giggling a little senselessly, wormed under one of his shoulders; so, as she bid the crafty barkeep an honest and heart-felt good-bye, she carried her limp partner outside.

In passing, she noted her younger sister and her entourage had at some point left as well.

Though, at first, Paran had made the task of walking him back to the town gate rather less than a walk in the park, as soon as Yamame had dumped him in a random backyard and let him be noisily sick over someone’s flowerbed for a while, her human had recovered the life-saving ability to shuffle along. The watch had since been retired from their post at the gate; and a list of names, faithfully recreated from drunken memory, had been nailed on the door beside a stick of charcoal on a string. Yamame stood her charge with his forehead against a nearby wall, while she deciphered the list for their names. Hers was misspelled. Paran’s, somehow, had been put down twice. Yamame crossed out all three.

Once they had left the decorative walls of the Human Village, however, the earth spider threw her caution to the wind. She drew from her preternatural strengths; and then, having sketched the familiar spell in her mind, she stepped up from the ground, and flew the rest of the way to Myouren-ji – low enough as not to overstress the already rather delicate human. The featherlike touch of wind on her skin seemed to whisk away some of the grogginess; and Yamame Kurodani, in a moment of idle introspection, realised that – as numb a drunk as he made for – she enjoyed taking care of her human in this circumstance as well. More, there was a glowing sense of fulfilment that he relied on her – trusted her – to keep him safe in this period of weakness, even though she was what she was… and even if it was not entirely his own idea.

She did keep him safe, though; and the youkai arrived with her human in the relative safety of Hijiri’s domain precluding the unpleasantness usually involved in such encounters. The temple grounds were absolutely still, and Yamame almost tiptoed through the courtyard as she made for her guest-house. Paran did not tiptoe; albeit, in his state, a regular plod was much less like to effect noisy accidents. They stopped at the drinking well for a minute, and Yamame roped up a pail of cold water to rinse down the worst of the sweat and evil breath.

When they had at last locked themselves in their assigned bedroom, Paran was flagging, and Yamame – tired. The earth spiders’ envoy stumbled blearily across the room, and fell – almost straight from verticality – onto the unmade futon. He was asleep before he hit it. Yamame Kurodani gave a weak smile at the display of sleeping technique. Then, she walked across the room, to where her meagre belongings were stashed in little piles. She hesitated for a heartbeat; but then, she slid down the straps of, and skinned her overalls. She tossed them to the side, and grabbed the bottom edge of her undershirt. She pulled it off – inside out – over her head. She bent down, picked out a long nightshirt from one of the piles, and wriggled inside. Then, finally, she tugged the ribbon out of her golden hair, and shook it straight over her back.

Yamame Kurodani had not considered what to do about her and her human’s sleeping arrangements. Nor had she to, yet. When she turned around, her human was sat, bolt upright, on the messed-up futon.

The thirty-second nap, it seemed, had granted him a sharper rise in awareness than the flight and cold well-water had combined. In the darkness of the room, it all but appeared as though he was – if not yet sober – then at least fully awake. His precious eyes were open, and staring.

Yamame Kurodani, at the end of her wits, spread out her arms helplessly.

“What?” she moaned.

Paran’s jaw unlatched, hanging open stupidly. It hung like that for a little while.

And then, quite calmly, he blurted the first stupid thing that came to his mind.

“… I love you.”

>> No. 15676
Kids and drunks do not lie!
>> No. 15677
Oh my god. He said it.
The absolute madman holy shit.
>> No. 15678
File 151053783481.png - (310.55KB, 605x587, latest.png) [iqdb]
>> No. 15679
Sweet Shinki you gotta warn people before you drop a bombshell like that. There could be casualties, man!
>> No. 15680
File 151061787994.jpg - (167.84KB, 800x600, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_hakika__2f47d8f7.jpg) [iqdb]

Yamame Kurodani was an earth spider. This, among everything else, had never changed.

Since the first, dim flashes of an ossifying sentience, she had seen the world through the eight-eyed prism of a spider. It was she whom those fearful, twain-legged creatures called humans had, in a previous age, styled the mother of plagues. It was she who – egged on by her fledgling mind – had brought to those humans the only gift she understood. It was she again who had run before the swaying fires, screams and strange, incisive tools of metal. She, and no one else, had then wandered to the next village, and the next, and the one after that, fruitlessly seeking one which would accept the sole boon she had to bestow. None did; and the fire and tools had hounded her again.

At the end of her journey, it was she who had turned her eyes from the Sun-kissed world of humans. A smattering of spiders, whom she had met along the way, similarly disenfranchised, had followed her steps as she had left behind the surface world, and descended into the snaking burrows deep in the womb of earth. The mother of plagues had festered in the juices of her anger so for a time; until, some years later, others had come – the Oni – and sealed the road behind them forever.

Yamame Kurodani had changed afterwards. She had learned much, and matured some. She had taken what knowledge had been offered by the red-skinned people, and paid it back with cunning humour and repartee. She had given to them the use of skills her spat with humans had left engraved in her mind, and received presents in turn. She had lived (and died slightly each morning after a party) among the Oni thus, and thought those days happiness.

Then, the meddling gods of Gensokyo had cracked the seal on the Underworld. And the world above had caught up to Yamame Kurodani.

No longer was she the walking terror she had once been. No more did the humans cry to the heavens at the sight of she who might fell scores of them with a single gesture or word. The world had aged, as had she; and Yamame’s diseases were grounds for panic no longer. She had been reduced – from the mother of plagues to but a yearly malady. There had been a grim satisfaction in terrorising the species which had spurned her; now, Yamame Kurodani was nothing more but an inconvenience – a nuisance to be avoided, only touched occasionally to bolster this or that god’s or doctor’s repute. She was hated, but not feared; and even if respect was given by some of Gensokyo’s humans who happened nearby her home, still Yamame was sure she hated them in return.

And now, one of them professed the opposite.

Yamame Kurodani knew of love. She possessed a firm enough grasp of human relations to understand how they paired. She had listened, after all, for hours on end to the nostalgic reminisce of the exiled Oni; and love had featured oft in those stories: either as a device, or at times the matter of focus. Nor was it unheard of for love to flower between one of their kin and the rare human bold enough (or with tough enough a stomach) to make a lasting impression. But the boisterous Oni had ever been close to humanity; and Yamame, though she drank and laughed and fought to match, was never one of them.

She was only an earth spider. A pest. A yearly malady. This, among everything else, had never changed.

Yamame Kurodani, her head swimming, gripped onto her nightshirt for support.

The human Paran, seated still atop his futon, might be staring – but he was not seeing. She had to make him. She had to tell him, even if her sillier parts were screaming at her to shut up. She had to make him remember.

“But I’m a youkai,” she said. “An earth spider.”

Paran’s reply was instant and unthinking. “I don’t care.”

“I’m not human.”

“I don’t care.”

Yamame bit on her lips. “I control diseases,” she pressed on. “I’ve caused people to die.”

Her favourite human shook his head, slowly – in a way which reminded her less of him, and more of her maddeningly self-centred sisters.

“I know,” he said.

“I almost killed you on accident.”

“I know.”

“Then why?” the earth spider demanded hopelessly. “Why me?”

Paran angled his whole body a little to one side. “You’re…” He squinted in an effort to determine what she was. “… You’re wonderful,” he decided.

“I don’t understand!” Yamame protested.

“Ah—” Paran tried – and failed – to snap his fingers. “That is part of your charm, too. You don’t understand how… how passionate you are. So, you don’t flaunt it. That’s what makes you wonderful. That, and,” he went on, before she could snip his thread of thought, “and you’re so secure. You know what you are – where you stand – but you’re unafraid to rise above it. You’re friendly, neighbourly, honest and hard-working. And you’re so, so very pretty.” He smiled. “You’re the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen. You’re so pretty it makes my chest hurt just to look at you.”

“I’m not a girl!” Yamame yelped. “I’m a youkai. A stupid, gods-forsaken earth spider. I’m not pretty!”

Paran’s smile melted from his face. “You aren’t stupid, Yamame,” he chided. Then, as if another idea occurring, his brows squeezed together, and he glanced uncertainly to the side. “No? Hold on… Maybe you are stupid,” he gave up. “I mostly hadn’t thought about it before. No matter.”

Yes matter!” Yamame was shaking. “You can’t go and tell me something like that all of a sudden. I don’t even know what you want me to do!”

“Yamame Kurodani, you stupid spider,” Paran said with unflappable patience. Now, he sounded a little like her pipe-sucking Oni mentor, Nikuyama. “It should never have made matter what I wanted you to do. All that should matter is what you want to do. All I ever wanted myself was for you to do what you want to do.” He stopped talking for a few troubled seconds. “… That doesn’t make any sense,” he realised; “I just said—”

“I heard what you said. It made no sense.”

Paran shrugged. “Sorry. I must be drunk still.”

“You must be.” Yamame clutched the thought. “You’re worrying me. Why don’t you go back to sleep?”

“I just wanted to say I love you.”

“Stop that!”

“In a moment,” Paran assured her. “I’ll probably stop for a good while, too. I mean, stop saying it, not… God, this is so dumb. I’m so bad with words.” His eyes cringed shut. He rubbed the uneasiness out with his thumbs. Then, he looked again at the shaking Yamame. “My point is,” he told her, matter-of-factly, “I don’t care, Yamame. I’m too tired and too drunk to care. So I don’t care.”

Yamame began to feel her hairs coming loose. “What,” she whined, “What – exactly – is it that you don’t care about?”

“I was… probably… getting to that. I don’t care what they say about you, Yamame,” he explained. “I don’t care what they say about you in our town. I don’t care what they say about you out of it, in the Underworld or wherever else. I don’t care what I say about it when I wake up in the morning. I don’t even especially care what you do about it. I love you. I want you to know that. I want you to think about it when I kiss you. I want to kiss you. I want to push you down and kiss you all over. I want to—” He choked back whatever else it was he wanted. “It doesn’t matter. It never should have mattered. I don’t care if it matters. I don’t care if you’re a youkai. I don’t care what they call you; I don’t care what you did in the past; I don’t care what my mother says. I don’t care what you did to my idiot father. I don’t care. I don’t…”

And then, his stupid voice petered out and died.

Yamame stopped shaking.

She began to tremble instead.

When she spoke, her own voice was tiny, and felt like someone else’s.

“What…” it asked quietly, “What did I do to your father?…”

“… Ah,” said Paran.

And it was everything he said. It was everything he needed to say. It was everything he had ever needed to say, and he said it now.

The pieces dovetailed together in Yamame’s spider’s mind – so exquisitely, she wanted to puke.

The blundered confession. The reluctance to impart his own history. The past tense in which he had spoken of one of his parents. The insistence that Yamame Kurodani had done no wrong, when the Gensokyan doctor had put her under the hand of blame for the more recent attack. The intriguing to keep her out of the sight of their clients. The stiff, dead smile plastered to the lower half of his face even now. All so she wouldn’t find out. All so she wouldn’t learn that Yamame Kurodani had done an irreparable wrong…

… And, that she had done it to the one human – the one in the entire world – who she wished could forgive her and accept her and trust her and embrace her and love her and…

She could not bear it. It barely registered not everything was clear yet; it was enough what she understood. It was too much.

Before the first tears could drop, she tore across the room, ripped the door wide open, and fled into the night.

>> No. 15681
So that was the other shoe, huh...
>> No. 15683
File 151062854016.jpg - (151.90KB, 800x600, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_hakika__3e5a37f7.jpg) [iqdb]

She felt, of course, acutely stupid about it the next day. The night had been a little cold, and sidling up to frogs in the rice fields to spook and watch them flop could only beguile her wounded emotions for so long. In the end, Yamame Kurodani wiped her cheeks dry, and returned to Myouren-ji’s sleeping guest-house.

Though still she rose as early as the first lighting outside. The last, seventh day of their project dawned; and Yamame’s responsibilities beckoned, wholly unenlightened of her internal conflicts. Who else, after all, could kick her sisters awake with no lethal reprise? Who else but their eldest may tell those deadly earth spiders to pack up their effects and shoo them home, to wait their rewards patiently like the good girls they were? None suggested themselves – less perhaps a certain human, who had broken in one spider, and at least allied with another.

But the human was still soundly asleep, snoring beside a pail of water which Yamame had drawn and left by his beddings before attending to her duties.

After they had left, Yamame examined her sisters’ influence on the guest-house. The damage wasn’t very bad; and it was with an almost pleasant distraction that she set to replacing the paper in the shoji walls where it had been punched through. She took out and trashed a chewed-up pillow from one of the rooms; one door had been jimmied out of its frame and stood beside, so she fitted it in again. A plank in the veranda must have offended one of Yamame’s sisters mightily; for it had been stomped in about the middle, and stuck out over the surrounding ones not unlike shivers of a broken bone. Yamame pried the splintered halves loose and cut a new one from the leftovers.

As she was buffing at the new plank with a scrap of sandpaper to at least make it appear close to the rest, a nearby wall slid open to issue out into the morning Sun a tall (but slumped) man, whose eyes were hidden under a black sash wound around his head. Someway, he managed to visibly squint at the pale light, groaned, and tied a second blindfold over the first one.

He who called himself Paranseberi, the earth spiders’ envoy, the sole priest of his god, and one who counted his family among Yamame Kurodani’s victims, looked upon the labouring architect. Or, at least his head turned her way – blindfold and all.

“… Good morning,” he said to her.

Yamame kept her emotions as veiled as he kept his eyes. “… Hello,” she replied. “How’s the noggin?”

Paran’s noggin cocked inquiringly. “State or contents?”

Yamame Kurodani giggled despite herself. Without feeling much more shame, she admitted inside – for the first time since meeting her human – that she loved these bland little japes he made. “State!” she moaned. “State, silly! The contents can’t be done much about – unless you desperately want to introduce yourself to the eldest Komeiji. Although, I hear she is pretty as well – in her own special right. So it’s your call.”

Paran ignored the jab. “… State, then,” he said. “A bit delicate. I’ll walk it off. It’s been a while since I last vomited after drinking. I’m far out of shape. Or you’re too far in shape. Has Hijiri come by yet?”

“No. Why?”

“She has an invoice for me. Our payment. We discussed it yesterday.”


A fraying thread of silence sewed into the air between them. Yamame continued to buff away. At distance, black-robed supplicants in a line began to file out of the temple after morning observations.

“… Yamame?” Paran spoke up at length.

“What is it?” she asked levelly.

“… You slept with me, didn’t you?”

The great architect of the Underworld clawed an ugly mark into the plank she had been polishing. She did not look up. She could not look up. She was looking up. She looked down.

“It was the room I was assigned,” she murmured. “I didn’t want my sisters to see me in… I didn’t want my sisters to wake up and start – start breaking things – even more things.” She punctuated the explanation with long, hard wipes of the sandpaper. “It was my bed by technicality – you know? You just were in it. I didn’t disturb you, did I?”

Paran began to jerk his head vigorously left and right. Then, abruptly, he stopped beginning to jerk it, and pressed his fists to his temples in pain. “Ouch, ouch, ouch. That’s… That’s not it, Yamame,” he groaned. “I woke up when you were leaving – but that’s not it. I wasn’t… disturbed.” With a sigh, he slung his arms along his sides. “… Just so this is out,” he said, “I remember everything I said last night. Somehow. Gods watching, maybe.”

“What’s your point?”

“My point,” Paran said pointedly, “is if there is anything you want to fight about, then we should have it out before Hijiri bounces by. We’ll both be too busy after that.”

Yamame Kurodani threw the useless sandpaper and leapt up to a spider-agile stand.

A thousand things broiled in her head that she wanted to fight about – if not with her human, then with Hijiri, or with any of her youkai devouts too confident to run. A thousand more pushed venomously onto her tongue as she bore down on the man who had made the eldest of earth spiders to bawl her eyes out like a prissy maiden from an Oni’s tale, and then had the gall to make an issue of having to share the bed. The bed which, in the first place, wasn’t even his. Almost two thousand things therefore broke from their strings and clattered down her puffed-up chest, each knocking her silly heart on the way. And it turned out, by the time she snapped at the collar of his robe and yanked his sash-wrapped head down to her height, that only three… only two remained dangling aloft. Only three—

Only two, two things, which Yamame Kurodani might want with her human in this moment of the morning.

( ) She wanted to kiss him.
( ) She wanted him to apologise.
( ) She wanted to kiss him.
( ) She wanted to kiss him.
( ) She wanted to apologise to him.
( ) She wanted to kiss him.
>> No. 15684
File 151063006251.jpg - (56.43KB, 720x960, 17021673_1391888084189683_8220734147479506122_n.jpg) [iqdb]


>> No. 15685
I mean, it doesn't really seem like such a big deal to me.

(x) She wanted him to apologise.
>> No. 15686
(X) She wanted to apologise to him.
>> No. 15687
(x) She wanted to apologise to him.
(x) She wanted him to apologise.

>> No. 15688
File 151067111839.jpg - (318.51KB, 856x1258, Crappily Drawn (and Coloured) Confrontation.jpg) [iqdb]
The PLOT Thickens...
>> No. 15689
(x) She wanted to apologise to him.
>> No. 15690
File 151070641986.jpg - (0.98MB, 1074x757, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_sai_go__6798691d.jpg) [iqdb]
(X) She wanted to apologise to him.

She did not want to kiss him.

Though he was within a perfect kissing’s range, and that much was indisputable. To take it would have been simplicity. Move yet an inch, rise a little on her tiptoes, pull him slightly lower yet if she had to; Yamame could be kissing him inside the heartbeat, and there was nothing between them that would stop her. What could he do? Punch her? Strike the youkai who had wronged him horribly and still had him playing to her whims since months? It would be idiocy.

The core of the problem was, she really, really did want to kiss him. She wanted to move that inch, stand on those tiptoes, and all the rest. She wanted to force out of him this one, final indignity – to wrap it up, store it as a prized memory – to bridge her over the coming seasons. And yet, she couldn’t. Not because her human would hate her – this was already on the far side of the equation; nor because of any physical impossibility – which she had just now dismissed. It was something more prosaic by half.

She could not kiss him because she did not deserve it.

Yamame Kurodani, shrinking, released the front of her human’s robe and stepped away.

All her preparations, all the phrases rehearsed in a rankling corner of her mind – all aired out together with that simple realisation; and Yamame stood, pink-faced and trembling, without the faintest idea of what to do. She wanted to apologise. She must apologise, more accurately; but, the trouble part was, she did not know at all where she should begin.

So, she selfishly skipped right to the bitter end.

“… I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m so, so sorry.”

Paran’s blindfolded eyes judged her with an unseeable expression. “… What for?”

“For this!” Yamame flapped her arms, as though the answer was somewhere within the surroundings. “I’m sorry I got you so drunk. I’m sorry I made you come out here. I’m sorry I took this job even when you told me not to.” The sense of impending loss, which she had fooled herself she’d cried all out last night, flooded back twice as strong; and Yamame, burying her face in her hands, babbled on pathetically. “I’m sorry I sent you out again and again to find new entertainments for me. I’m sorry I started experimenting with touching. I’m sorry I had you carry all those heavy things down to my home. I’m sorry I had you keep it clean. I’m sorry I had you cook for me. I’m sorry I bit you. I’m sorry that… that I did… what I did, to your father. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.”

“Yamame,” Paran began. “That’s not—”

“No!” the earth spider yelled. “That -is- it! I haven’t done ‘no wrong!’ I bit you! I took away one of your parents! I may be a youkai, but I know the value of family. I’ve had my sisters to teach me about this. I’ve had Niku. I’ve had…” I’ve had you, she thought, but the words would not come out. “I—I could never take it if— I couldn’t bear it if I lost them! I understand that much. We have been together for so long! It’s the same for humans, isn’t it? And I,” she sniffed, “I took away one of yours. You must hate me.”

Paran’s reply was a cold hammer to her chest. “Yes,” he hissed. “I did. I did hate you.”

It was a reply Yamame had both anticipated and prepared for. It was a reply which nonetheless blurred her sight and turned her knees to jelly. It was a reply which made her throat clench up so hard and her jaw get stuck so fast, they could as well have been iced over. It was a reply that could have shattered her silly heart, had the yearly malady not been so used to hate.

It was not even a half of the reply Paran had for her.

“I did hate you, Yamame Kurodani,” he went on, his tone bland and void of sympathy. “I hated you more than I had ever hated anything. I hated you so much I prayed you would die. My father… expired after ten days of choking and coughing up chunk after black chunk of his insides. I wanted twenty days for you. I wanted forty. A hundred. The best if you suffered as long as you could. That is how much I hated you.”

“I’m sorry—”

“Shut up.” Paran’s words whipped her across the ears. “You stupid creature. You devastated my mother. The steadiest woman I had ever known, who had managed my father’s industry while he… caroused about, and did you know what she did? Nothing. She gaped on an empty wall for hours and hours, every day, until she was starving. I was a teenager then; I was fortunate to have the servants who knew the ins and outs of our family’s business. I grew up, hating you more and more with each year; but I was too busy – first with holding things together, then running errands for my mother once she recovered – to do anything about it. I’m past twenty five years now; I’ve another twenty five or abouts to live. I spent a quarter of that time hating you impotently from the bottom of my soul. And you tell me you’re sorry?


“And then!” her human rode over her apologies. There was an accelerating quality to his voice now – like a mountain brook racing toward a waterfall. “And then, imagine you this, that a servant is one day speaking to a client as I happen beyond the door, and they make a mention of my late father. A fool he had been, if you believed them. A ‘drunkard’ – which he perhaps was, overfond of drink – but, most of all, they called his fate deserved. That it had been pride – unmarried to wits – not accident, that had impelled him to venture close to your tunnels. Our family, you see, had youkai exterminators a few steps back in the line, and my father had ever made a sharp point of this heritage. He claimed his blood was iron, not rayon, wrought from firmer things than those he vended day-to-day. I told you, once: that he had been a man with a lot to prove. And so he did.” Paran paused for breath. “And so he did prove it. That he had chosen you for this proving had made smaller sense. The servant said it had been random. That even the hawkish Hieda-lady, who makes a hobby of demonising you youkai, consents you, among all the rest, are at least reasonable. Maybe that was it, then: an easy, compliant target to display the youkai-hunters’ blood ran still in our veins. It ran out of my father soon enough.”

Yamame was staring now. There was a misaligned cast to her human’s smile as it quirked up the edges of his mouth. It almost seemed a smirk.

“My life that day, Yamame,” he told her, “was skinned and turned inside out. But no. My father isn’t why. Maybe I still hate you, somewhere in a place where I don’t like to look. Maybe you still make me feel disgusted with myself. But it isn’t because my father was a foolhardy idiot. That reason was torn away from me that day. Ahh—” he sighed, and the sigh was made of pure relief, “That felt good, though! My head aches even worse now, but it felt good. I worked away half the night at this.”

And again, he smiled the same spoilt little smile.

“Well, but I’m shutting up. Your turn now, Yamame. I’m all yours.”

>> No. 15691
>> No. 15692
Even if he deserved it, it must have been a big blow. But he had time to understand and grow past this. Now she has to forgive herself.
>> No. 15693
Welp, I'm off to re-read this story with this new insight in mind...
>> No. 15695
File 151078226717.png - (206.19KB, 1200x1200, 65897410_p0.png) [iqdb]
It may console you to know it is so because I fell asleep last night with my (cheap, $150, passively-cooled, Chinese) laptop seated rather precariously atop my nethers. I did not wake up to boiled eggs, but I did to a nasty bout of SAD. That’s Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a legitimate disorder, don’t you know – and a valid excuse to faff about take a short break and relax. Nyes.
And you should know you had be grinning maniacally on a very public and decently populated train. I know Ashi is my self-insert, but I’m feeling at the moment rather like our Yams. I hope you’re happy about this.
Oh, ooh! When you do that, read the more picturesque heaves of narration in younger old Michael Bell’s voice. It’s what I do. If it sounds a little like a complex procedure, that’s because it is.

Hello. I am Baank, the Lord of Sekistruction. I woke up with a blasting headache today. I think I’ll let my minions deal with you today. Haa haa, and all that. I’ll see you another day.
>> No. 15696
>I woke up with a blasting headache today.
Mind your noggin' and update faster.
>> No. 15697
File 151080630931.png - (543.24KB, 993x1292, have a cute dullahan.png) [iqdb]
> legitimate disorder

As a sufferer of a different disorder nobody believes in, with similar effects three years of unbroken depression and counting, it would be the height of hypocrisy for me to say otherwise.

I'm still going to nag you to update faster, though. I wish my readers would nag me.
>> No. 15698
Fuck you too, anon. Update faster.
>> No. 15701
File 151088504388.jpg - (1.73MB, 2000x2400, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_lian_gui__dcbc5e.jpg) [iqdb]

She stared at him, wide-eyed and cold, as if he had struck her after all. Then, she drew herself up.

Yamame Kurodani was an earth spider. A youkai. She was one whom long ago fleeing humans had decried the mother of plagues. She was one whose eight eyes, and so many segmented legs, inhabited their blackest nightmares. She was the Underworld’s great architect; she was…

… She was many things. She was many things, and more; and she pulled those things around herself – titles, curses and all – and spun them into an insulating coat. She picked away the ice which had bound her throat, and fashioned out of it plates of gleaming armour. She clamped her venomous teeth. She breathed in… and swallowed down the bitter implications of what she was about to say.

They stuck between her lungs: a hard, cancerous lump. But she said it anyway.

“… All right,” she said. “Very good, Paran. I’m not sorry about your father. Happy?”

“Hardly,” he snorted.

Yamame flashed her fangs. “Quiet! It’s my turn. Take a look at me. I’m a spider,” she pointed out. “I don’t attack unless it is in requital. It used to be otherwise, but not anymore. As you say, I am at least reasonable. I’ve been accosted by you humans before; if I gave something nasty to your father, then that means he had done something to necessitate I did. I don’t recall what – I couldn’t recall what – because this is normal to me. I have always been accosted by humans.” The spinstress dropped her tone. “But those other things? Those other things I said? I’m still sorry about those. You can’t take this away from me. I won’t let you.”

The human Paran – the good, stout, reliable human Paran – sagged at his wide shoulders, and raked his fingers down his face.

“… Your sister was right,” he grunted. “Those Oni did ruin you.”

And then, he cackled.

The cackle was low – low, grating and unpleasant; and it nudged a piece in Yamame’s mind which was at once remote and very important. A memory – for this was what the piece was – of that day, the one closer the opening of the month, when the two of them – the architect and her envoy – had turned over her previous assignment. When he, fully in his priest’s disguise, had been speaking with their client on the nature of those earth spiders who had delivered unto the humans their newest sanctuary. When Yamame, cloaked in the crown of a nearby tree, had been spying on.

The spider shape she had worn then had never known an emotion beyond the elemental. As such, it had never ascribed anything to their voices approaching the complexity of a tone or intention. There was only the way the sound rubbed against the feeling hairs on its legs: the intensity, its derivative range, the pitch, and the few signal associations which marked the source as either potential prey or a part of the environs.

The cackle now was the same as then. And Yamame, the two-legged version, recognised at once with nauseous clarity what it all meant.

It was derision. Mocking, undisguised derision: of her, Yamame, and her earth spider’s ways.

The lump in her chest dropped like a stone. Her voice, uncorked, unrestrained, came out in a toxic hiss.

“… I hate you.”

That got his attention snapping. “You what?”

“I hate you.” Yamame spat it this time – together with a globe of saliva. “I hate you. I see you now as you are, you Paransa-whatever your name is. A cheat. A liar. Toying with the spiders – with me – for some inexpressible end of your own. What did you hope to achieve, then? A name for yourself? He Who Outwits Spiders? Humans are all the same in the end, aren’t they?”

The human in front of her balled his hands into fists. “You—”

“But!” snapped Yamame, not without some vicious satisfaction of robbing him of a point, “But, I am nothing if not at least reasonable. So, I won’t hold a grudge. I won’t give you anything nasty. I will not speak ill of you to my sisters or my friends. But you will uphold your end of our… contract. You will carry my rewards to my home, as you are obliged. Then, you can leave. I will not molest you, because I have rules and I have honour. You can even keep your share of the payment. But then, He Who Outwits Spiders, we are finished.

“Leave? LEAVE!”

And suddenly, He Who Outwits Spiders was inches away from her, and screaming. He was flailing his arms, his face contorted with rage; and it was only Yamame’s frigid offence which kept her frozen to the spot.

“LEAVE!” Paran’s voice jumped half up another key. “Finished?! You and I? You stupid, self-flagellating, egotistical girl! You think you’ve earned my compassion? My loyalty? How can you even begin to understand what I feel?! I gave up my friends, my remaining family, my home in my mother’s estate! All for you! I scattered my pride on my father’s grave, and scrambled to undo the horrid reputation of yours I’d unwittingly helped to grow! All for you! I journey again and again, to and fro, through forests and fields riddled with youkai far less reserved than you, to carry requests and projects from those idiots I manage to persuade to trust you! And you think this has all been an entertainment to me? A pursuit of some empty glory? You think you can make me say those things I said to you – and then tell me to leave? So you can soak up in your delightfully prepared tub of self-pity? Never! We will never be finished, little spider. You made this about me, and I haven’t had enough! Ouch.

He groaned the final argument, bending half over and kneading his temples.

A mistake had been made.

This much, Yamame Kurodani, the yearly malady, realised instantly; even her less sophisticated form could have told by the volume and pitch of his voice that her human was infuriated. A mistake had been made… but ahead any further such brilliant recognitions might bubble to the fore of her mind, an entirely new and undesirable voice entered their private battlefield.

“Pardon me?”

They both wheeled around toward the edge of the veranda, beyond which the priestess Hijiri – resplendent in her black robes and the strange aura of one-ness with her surrounds – was standing. Again yet, it was Yamame’s human whose – oh, irony – human reflexes stitched out their circuit first.

The human bowed – deeply and with ceremony.

“Your ladyship,” he greeted the priestess. “Paranseberi bids good morrow to the Acharya of Myouren-ji.”

Nothing whatsoever remained in his tone of the explosive anger from not fifteen heartbeats before; and Yamame Kurodani found, as he dropped to the beaten ground, that there was an angle to her human’s personality – an entire mathematics perhaps – which she had never even speculated was there until now. His motions were slow, showy. His expression (what little of it visible under the blindfold) was trained; and his arms were joined inside overlapping sleeves in front of his stomach.

It made her chest clinch.

But the effects on the black priestess were expertly calculated; and Byakuren Hijiri did, too, bow – even as low to the tips of her boots. “Myouren-ji does graciously return the greetings,” she intoned. The master of Myouren-ji unrolled back to her stately full height. The ritual completed, she extended to Yamame’s human a hand holding onto a scribbled sheet of white paper. “The invoice we spoke about yesterday,” she explained. “These merchants and wardens should dispense the items when requested. They are all good patrons,” she added with sincere pride. “My apologies, master Paran; I had not anticipated your arrival until, well, later today. These delays are inevitably an effect of that.”

Paran laughed good-naturedly. “None necessary, master Hijiri,” he replied. “My prematurity alone did you this inconvenience. So I shall countervail myself.”

“Or perhaps,” Byakuren suggested a touch slyly, “perhaps I should send a servant out even now, so you two may wait, and… meditate for the next hour or two? Work out your differences? Our temple is always open.”

“Thank you all the same,” Paran said quickly. “Alas. My religion prevents my longer involvement with your temple. A theological conflict, you understand.”

“Sad. But then, perhaps I have another proposal for you. Would you like for a branch shrine to be erected to your god on our temple grounds?”

“A branch shrine?”

“A god, any god, does needs require sustenance, else they shall surely perish,” Hijiri said wisely. “A branch shrine in our temple would draw many an eye seeking to give their worship. We do get a grand number of visitors, after all. It would do us great honour also to mark our amiable connection with the mighty Underworld.”

Had Yamame not been what she was and known her human well – far as she did, anyway – she might not have caught the minute cracking in his priestly veneer. “Your words are heartening,” he said next, and the crack was patched over, “but I – we – prefer singular obscurity. I must refuse.”

The priestess sighed her obvious disappointment. “So like a spider.”

“So like a spider,” Paran agreed.

Hijiri spread out her arms. “Then our business, master Paran, is also complete.”

Yamame’s human – her human – laughed again. “Good priestess, not close! This one—” here he motioned at the lip-chewing Yamame, “she will want to display the guest-house to you in detail yet.”

“I have seen the guest-house already,” Hijiri said, confused. “It is above satisfactory.”

“On the contrary. Our beloved Yamame is extremely insecure about her skill in architecture. She will – with your leave – drag you roped around the building, counting on you to glare and scoff at every tiniest error made. Should you fail to do so, she will glare and scoff herself.”

“I… see.” The black priestess glanced at Yamame a little apprehensively. “My flock do cry for my return as soon as possible, but…”

Yamame found her voice. She roped it – and dragged it out. “… I will try to make good time,” she assured.

“There you have it,” Paran said. “It was a pleasure, master Hijiri, but I doubt it will be for you from now for the next five hours. Would you happen to know, perchance, where my cart is?”

Hijiri blinked away the momentary bewilderment. “It is… where you left it, I think. At the gate?”

“So it is,” Paran confirmed, looking out over the courtyard. “Then I bid the Acharya of Myouren-ji a sorrowful good-bye. And you…”

The human turned his unseen – but not unseeing – eyes fully on the earth spider up above. His lips moved in visible articulation… but no sound was issued. At first.

“… I will meet you on the road,” he said then.

And having this instruction – or demand – delivered, the human Paran, sole priest of his spider god, turned around on a heel, and stamped off across the temple’s dew-speckled courtyard.

It was not until he was half-way to the gate – and well past the point of non-awkward return – that Yamame’s stupid head at last puzzled out what it was he had said to her without using his voice.

Her tiny heart soared, then sank, then soared again nonsensically.

He had called her a “pretty idiot.”

>> No. 15703
File 15109694955.jpg - (394.53KB, 1000x1500, 65897825_p1.jpg) [iqdb]

To her wilting credit, Yamame Kurodani had made a decent time.

She had ferried the priestess Hijiri (un-roped) around the guest-house, explicating its quirks which escaped an uninitiated perusal. She had shown to the master of Myouren-ji which rooms were best to be inhabited first, so as not to smoke up the interior with too many lampions and candles. She had invited the priestess inside the baths, so she may instruct their new owner on how to use – and if necessary, replace – its labyrinthine brass plumbing; she had even, feigning deep innocence, given a few pointers on how to tend the flowerbed, which Yamame’s sisters had planted along the guest-house in defiance of Hijiri’s notes.

The black priestess had frowned up a thunderstorm over the flowers. In the end, however, she had seemed to accept their budding existence – no doubt bending it in her head to this or that religious metaphor. At the tail end of the second hour, the earth spider and the Buddhist parted on peaceable terms; and Yamame, her tools and clothes bundled up, exchanged final good-byes with Byakuren Hijiri under the temple’s leaning toori.

“Should you have a change of mind,” Hijiri said by way of their fare-wells, “then know my proposal stands firm.”

Yamame’s sarcasm spoke. “Which one would that be?”

“The one about the shrine, of course. Myouren-ji welcomes all downtrodden beings; it matters not whence they come, nor their domain. If you should prevail it upon your… partner, then we should welcome your god also.”

Not mine, thought the earth spider. But you aren’t greatly bothered, are you? “I’ll prod him about it,” she lied.

“That is also well.”

Hijiri bowed then, with the same overblown ceremony she had given to Paran before. No flair for ritual dimmer than Yamame’s unless with her human; and so the spinstress offered up but the briefest of nods in return. Then, bolting the spell to the back of her mind, Yamame stepped outside the temple bounds officially, and launched in a powering arc over the roof of the forest.

As the wind of her flight pounded in her ears, Yamame Kurodani picked out the route she wanted from the Sun-blasted environs. Not in a die-straight line to the Goddesses’ Mount – onto whose slopes the warrens of the Underworld had spat out their secret openings – to the west – but north-westerly first: over and around the Human Village, and up the rising terrain along a certain lonely road. The road – called the Pilgrim’s Way, if one believed those men so ideologically strong that they broke the town’s safety to brave it – took whosoever shall walk it to the Hakurei hill first of all, and the red-white shrine maiden’s home there. Then, bounding off yet farther west, it led the bravest (or most foolish, but also bravest in a way) of those travellers into the youkai realm of Moriya.

It was this road which Yamame, otherwise unfamiliar with the changed geography of Gensokyo, chose to follow.

So it was with a sense of trepidation – and relief, but trepidation as well – that her spider’s eyes spotted a familiar figure trundling up the Sun-baked road with a push-cart laded precariously under a range of crates, boxes, bags and bundles. Yamame, grinning despite her every apprehension, thus broke her flight, and – making certain her landing was noticed – touched down some dozen paces’ distance ahead of the cart. It was sweltering down on the ground.

“Hello, stranger,” she called out.

The carter’s blindfolded face rose up lazily from its reverie. A thin smile sculpted briefly on its lower half. He stopped, and put down the cart.

“Oh no,” he said without much conviction. “A youkai.”

Yamame chuckled at the bland announcement. Arms looped behind her back, she skipped up to the cart, eyeing the containers with open curiosity. “Have you got everything, then?” she asked. “Hijiri didn’t swindle us out of anything?”

Paran shrugged. “We’ve got eggs.”

The spinstress giggled again. I really should tell him to work on these jokes. “Snake. And how’s your head? Still delicate?”

“It boiled out. I’m fine now.”

“That’s good to hear.” Yamame set belongings down on the cart and pried the lid off the first crate that happened under her hands. Her human watched her without a word. “Vegetables, fruit… Isn’t this rather a lot? Are you sure it won’t go to waste? It isn’t that cold in the caves – especially at this time of the year. Won’t it rot before long?”

Paran nudged his chin at a sealed jar beside the crate. “Saltpetre,” he explained. “Yesterday evening gave me an idea. I’ve used what money was left and bought some off of one of the merchants. Should be simple work to cut yourself an ice-box and keep the produce fresh. Or drink cool, depending. Whatever is more important.”

Yamame looked at her human, her mouth slack, and her heart ripping right in two.

He was so good.

Never mind he had, by rights, reasons to hate the eldest earth spider to bloody pieces. All the same, he had gone above the call of duty to better yet what Yamame Kurodani now considered as her day-to-day life. He had kept her house clean. He had cooked foods for her which would have been impossible to obtain before. He had gone out, twice and thrice and four times each month, to roam the town of his birth in search of those humans pliable enough to put their stock in the feared yearly malady. He had given her company. He had given her trust. He had given her affection beyond anything most youkai such as she experienced in centuries.

He had given her love. And yet she: Yamame Kurodani, the mother of plagues, the great architect of the Underworld, the eldest, most powerful among the earth spiders such as she was…

… What had she, in her majesty, ever given him?

Yamame gripped the edges of the crate – so hard, her nails poked into the wood.

“… Paran?”

“What is it, Yamame?”

Yamame winced. “… You don’t have to leave,” she emptied the words among the fruit and vegetables. “You don’t have to leave if you don’t want to. If you want to, you can stay at my place as long as you need. You can use my kitchen. You can use my shower; you can keep using the room you’ve been using; you can even have my bed, if you prefer it over your futon. You can do whatever you like. You don’t have to leave.”

The human Paran – her Paran, whom she did not want to leave, but would let go at once if he did – blew out a wheezing sigh that seemed to go on forever. He stepped up onto the cart, ignoring the angry squeaking, and sat weightily down on one of the unopened crates.

“… It was never supposed to be about me, Yamame.”

Yamame, smiling miserably, stepped away and looked up at her favourite human.

The late Summer’s heat – as well as the carting – had made him peel off the outer layer of his robes. A thin, linen undershirt was all which remained, together with his airy hakama on the bottom, and it left his sweat-sheened arms exposed to cool on the air. The muscles inside these arms were thick knots, and bunched from the exertion. His skin was red and radiated hot; and together with his wide shoulders, back, and legs used to carrying him across the land, the man calling himself Paran was not unlike an Oni – whittled down from its rocky geometry to a more aesthetically pleasing shape. His hair was damp and matted from sweat, but was soft and smelled nice when he came out of the shower.

And you like how he looks very much, someone jeered inside Yamame’s head. Only you never named it so before.

“… Yes,” said Yamame, willing down an unaccountable blush, “Yes, you… You said as much, last night.”

“I may have tried to,” Paran conceded.

“I still don’t understand, you know? This is about me and you. Why shouldn’t it be about you?”

Her human jerked his head left and right. “Because I was mistaken,” he rasped. “Because it makes me feel vile.”

“Because I’m a youkai?” Yamame wanted to know. “Because I did… well, what I did? Is that the root of it?”

“It’s because you’re different.” Paran reached back and conjured a skin of water out of the assemblage. He levered out the stopper and poured it over his head. “… This should never have been,” he said, dripping; “I would have been satisfied being just your envoy.”

Yamame dared a smug little smile. “Would you really?”

“… No,” he surrendered. “Maybe not. But I almost had myself convinced elsewise, after you had bitten me. I almost had it. Then you began to experiment…”

“Then why does it make you feel so evil? It’s my fault, isn’t it?” You said this as well, she thought, albeit a touch earlier. “Why should you bear the brunt of responsibility, when I gave you no choice in it from the start?”

“Because you’re different,” Paran repeated stubbornly. “Because it makes me feel like I’ve been forcing you to do things with me.”

“You can’t force me to do anything.”

“No,” he agreed. “But I can make you, Yamame. And I have made you, on at least one count.”

Yamame fixed with him a hard stare. “You’ve never made me do anything I didn’t like.”

“Not even once?”

“Not even once.”

“… That isn’t the point.”

“Then what is?” Yamame exploded. “If this is because I am what I am—”

“It’s because those things mean something to me!” Paran growled. “It’s because I’ve made you do them, even as I knew you did not know what they meant.”

“Then explain them to me!” whined the spinstress. “I’m not an animal! I understand things when they are explained to me. You explained to me why human females wore ridiculous dresses sometimes. I understood that. I wore several for you afterward. You explained to me what it meant when you embraced me in your point of view. I understood that. I’ve embraced you dozens of times since. You explained what it meant when you wanted to touch your lips to mine – to kiss me. I understood that. How many times have we kissed? You explained how I’d stepped on a sticky one when I’d consented to build for Hijiri and her cronies. Well, that—” she smiled sardonically, “—that, I didn’t understand. But I took away the point.”

“What if I lied?” he insisted. “What if I told you something meant one thing, but it meant another? What if I have done so already?”

“Would you do that to me?”

He didn’t answer.

“I don’t really believe you would, Paran,” Yamame forged on. “I think you’d sooner make a face, crawl back to your room, and sit there glaring at your belly, contemplating what it would look like carved out, than you told a lie. That’s what I’d do, anyway, if I had that propriety hanging over my web day and night. Or, if explaining things to me is so scary,” she tried a different angle, “then let me figure them out on my own, then correct me after if I figure it wrong. We did that for kissing, didn’t we? Or did you perhaps give me a lecture beforehand – rather than telling me to punch you, if you tried to force it on me by accident?”

Paran’s blindfold managed to look a bit guilty.

“This is what I want, Paran,” Yamame delivered her ultimatum. “I want you to do what you want to do. If you want to leave, then leave. If you want to stay – stay. If you want to kiss me, then kiss me. If you want to tell me how you feel – tell me. If you want to lie to me, then lie away. I’m not poured from window glass. I’m not going to break. I’ll be a little embarrassed, perhaps – but I’ll weather it. I have already. Or haven’t I, Paran?”

Her human made a rusty sound. Then, leaning down with his elbows on his thighs, he accepted the challenge. “… Very good,” he gave in. “Then let us trial your method.”

“To the death?” Yamame teased.

“We’ll see. But this is what I want.” He threw the humour from his voice. “I don’t want to leave – I never have. But I am upset with you. Therefore, I want something from you. What is it, Yamame? Time begins… now.”

Yamame blinked up at her human – seated like a philosopher Oni atop a keg – in an exasperated protest. “... You’ve been needling me like this since yesterday,” she complained. “Are you one of my sisters now? What gives?”

“No hints,” Paran mocked. “Tick, tock.”

( ) She did something to him.
( ) She said something to him.
( ) She had him do something to her.
>> No. 15704
[x] She said something to him.


>> No. 15705
(x) She said something to him.



>> No. 15706
(X) She said something to him.
> Talking about their problems like adults.

Also, I wonder what will happen if enough people believes that Paranseberi the God exists. After all, considering how often Paran the human went out to seek for projects, a lot of people would've been at least be aware that Paranseberi is a thing.
Will Paran the human become a divine being? Or will a new entity be born, different from Paran the human?
>> No. 15707
(x) She said something to him.

I'm just gonna go along with what everyone else is saying here. I'm clueless when it comes to relationships.
>> No. 15708
(x) She said something to him.

We're not gonna get a hatefuck scene, are we?

Oh well. Ya can't win em all, I guess.
>> No. 15711
File 151105395969.jpg - (159.42KB, 850x1150, Seki - in the bank of my heart.jpg) [iqdb]
“The Moon is beautiful,” I presume? That is almost four words. I counted.

Hello. This is the National Bank of Sekistan speaking. And so it ends. Some nine months after it reasonably should, but this thread is now past the bump limit.

I’d like to thank you here for your support in the last two months. At the risk of sounding melodramatic, having your comments has helped me take a load of stress off of my mind in this somewhat ridiculous time of my life. Actually, I have shared some of these comments with a fellow writer friend of mine. You’ve made a very skilled man jealous, you know. I’m attempting to subtly rope him into joining us on here as we speak. Maybe in a bit. He likes patches and watermelons, apparently.

To tide you over until I work out which of the thousand pictures of cute Yamams to use as our next OP, here is a question for you. Imagine you were presented with the unique opportunity to put a fully loaded and extremely unsafe M1911 somewhere to my cranium, and to offer me the choice between an honourable death by the greatest handgun ever designed by man, or writing shamefully at some length about a ‘hou of the Tou persuasion of your choice. The question then is: which ‘hou would you burden me with in this circumstance? All purely hypothetical, you understand.

Oh, and by way of the same course, if you have any questions – related or otherwise – of your own, do feel free to shoot them at my head as well.
>> No. 15712
File 151106899678.png - (172.28KB, 340x720, come into my parlour.png) [iqdb]

I can count, and I know you can too. You ain't foolin' anyone.

> The question then is: which ‘hou would you burden me with in this circumstance?


>> No. 15713
> He likes patches and watermelons
A magician and an Oni is an unusual pairing to be sure.

> which ‘hou would you burden me with in this circumstance? All purely hypothetical, you understand.
Well, I'd say Yammy, but you're already writing about her anyway.
Therefore, my answer shall be a certain beloved Shadow-Wolf, who once were my favourite 2hu, until you brought upon us KuroYam HNG, thus dethroning her place in my heart. She's still my 2nd favourite though, so all is well.
>> No. 15714
I assume the contents must be the equivalent of harlequin bodice rippers but for us and with 2hus, as has been your theme the past few years (and don't you try to deny it).

I don't know. It's probably fun to do one of the recenthus, since there's not much material to work with, and so there's freedom to take them wherever you want.

Apart from that, Nitori is in dire need of attention, the poor girl. People like to ignore the fact that she's supposed to be haughty and ocasionally brutal (if you believe Akyuu) - but that's the whole fun part! No taste, I tell you what. Also, not many have made a decent attempt at describing and exploring kappa society, which I think would be a good element in a story.

Anyway, good luck with jobs and life and all that. I will pray for you.
>> No. 15715
File 151111666596.gif - (2.72MB, 352x352, a forlorn insect.gif) [iqdb]
>He likes patches and watermelons.

Patches are good civilization. Watermelons are bad civilization.

If I had to choose a touhou, I'd go with Patches. Or a certain night-flying light, if you get my drift.
>> No. 15716
> which ‘hou would you burden me with in this circumstance?

Nazrin. Grump is love, grump is life.
>> No. 15719
Next thread, 'cause the OP forgot: >>15717
[Return] [Entire Thread] [Last 50 posts] [First 100 posts] [Top]

[Delete or report post]
Delete post []
Report post

[Switch to Mobile Page]
Thread Watcher x