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File 148115700448.jpg - (724.49KB, 924x1265, 59638022_p4.jpg) [iqdb]
15173 No. 15173
Wherein Yamame Kurodani realises a few things.
Expand all images
>> No. 15175
File 148115732953.png - (585.27KB, 644x910, 50779065_p0.png) [iqdb]
15175
(X) Punch.

So Yamame Kurodani punched.

Yamame Kurodani had thrown punches before. More than that: she had thrown, taken, sometimes pulled them (but not often); but among the many punches Yamame Kurodani had packed in her life, the one she unrolled now compared to none of its siblings. Not at all similar to the punch she had vended to one Parsee Misuhashi, the time the green-gazed one had turned up at (and spoiled) one of the many Oni-thrown parties – nor whatsoever like the punch Nikuyama had received during the same party (markedly soon after the other one) for holding the drunken earth spider back.

This punch was not like those. This punch – if it could yet be called one – was of a softer spin. A nudge of the fist – nothing more. A poke with the knuckles. Slow and ineffectual. Weak. Unwilling.

And as Yamame had fully expected it… or had hoped it would… all the punch did was make the human twitch in surprise.

This had two consequences. One: that his lips, already part overlaid on hers, briefly pressed down stronger. Two: that sensing this, an instinct jerking awake shoved her arms out against her human’s shoulders. Not a spider’s instinct – but something else’s, rocketing out of a reservoir of Yamame she had not in a long time, perhaps not even an ever-time, taken a careful look through.

When she opened her eyes, a human as red as a sheet of precious satin was grimacing at her from less than a hand-span away.

Yamame Kurodani, who did not for a moment doubt she was actively rivalling the human in tincture, suddenly felt as dumb as the dumbest fairy in Old Hell. Not to say she hadn’t been feeling dumb already; but, when at once her heart was relieved nothing too much had happened, and insanely happy that something had, it was an earth spider’s inviolable right to think herself more foolish than the rule.

Paran, as it seemed another rule, was the first to find his voice.

“… Cheers,” he told the pushing earth spider. It was a voice – and a “cheers” – as cheerless and empty of gratitude as it was humanly possible.

“… No problem,” Yamame returned – and it was a “no problem” as problematic as an earth spider could spiderly make it.

Nor did the problems end there. It took Yamame the worst and the best of herself to tear out of her human’s embrace and stand up to two very wobbly feet. The worst – to break said embrace effortlessly with her preternatural strength; the best – not to hate him for making her do so in the first place. Not three ticks of the clock’s quickest hand, and the human behind her spoke again.

“… Yamame?”

Yamame’s fingers curled into claws at the sound of her own name. “… I’m going to bed,” she announced, not turning around. “That’s what we promised, right?”

“A question first,” said Paran, “if I can.”

“Go ahead,” Yamame allowed. “Quickly. I want to get some sleep myself.”

“All right.” Her human drew a deeper breath before asking. “Would that… have been safe?”

“Would what have been safe?” Yamame demanded. “Speak clearly.”

Paran swallowed audibly. “Would your mou—… Your lips,” he corrected. “Your lips. Would they have been… safe?”

Yamame Kurodani – once again – mustered out her best so as not to let her feelings for her human become stained black. Now? she thought, Now he asks me that? The tips of her fingernails dug into her palms. “… Which part,” she muttered, “of ‘controls diseases’ did you not understand? ‘Controls?’ I’m a spider. A twice-damned, stupid, silly spider. I’m venomous – not toxic.

“Then—”

“Yes.” Yamame wrestled against the urge to turn around after all. It was not an even match. “My… It would have been safe. Very, very, very safe. Safer than… than messing up my dress. That, right there, was unsafe. This is my favourite dress, you know. My very, very favourite. My lips are… nothing. They’re nothing. OK? They’re nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

“Nothing?” asked Paran.

“Nothing,” Yamame assured, with all the surety it warranted. Though whether the spinstress herself was assured (of what she had meant, for one) remained a frustrated uncertainty. “A—Anyway,” she went on, before frustration curdled into flustering, “if that’s all the questions you had, then we had better… had best go now, because… because it’s getting really, really late – really. I’ve… I’ve got the project to wrap up, too, before I get knocked off my web. I’ve still got a lot of work to do. The landscaping – it’s really going to be a lot of work.”

“Right,” agreed Paran. “A lot of work.”

“Yes,” said Yamame. “A lot of work. So…”

“So?”

“So good-night!” Yamame groaned, irritated, skittering for her bedroom door. “That’s what! Good-night, Paran!”

You stupid idiot, she added inside.

At the door (but safely past its frame) about to bash it shut behind her, Yamame Kurodani snuck one final glance tonight at her salon’s recently overbusied sofa.

A broken, broken man lay with his head pushed into its backrest, one limp arm slung across his eyes. A broken, dejected man, who – had Yamame been someone else, sometime else, and elsewhere – she may have suspected must have had a great debt attached to his name, or an ages-long vow ruined in a flight of fancy. On the inverse, had that someone else, sometime else, and elsewhere been Yamame Kurodani right now, they may have rushed over to comfort this man. To tell him that, in the long run, the greater scheme of things, debts, vows, other such human things – they licensed very little real importance. That life, as the gods so adored by humanity, had forgiven greater sins before. Those who may have been Yamame would be cruelly tempted to do so – if nothing more.

Yamame Kurodani in actual shut the door instead. The spring-loaded latch slid into place with a dull ring.

The spinstress tottered across her room and crashed, face-first, into her rumpled beddings.

There, in the messy sheets, blankets and pillows, Yamame Kurodani asked a certain part of herself what it was she was supposed to feel. The part which, Yamame knew, had for countless years been inside her most basic lining. The part which, paltry three days before, had told her outright paying court to touching and other human nonsenses was disparaging a mighty youkai such as she.


To her mounting misery, that part of Yamame Kurodani was three days dead.


>> No. 15176
File 148115739719.jpg - (819.25KB, 2952x2952, 60166587_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
15176


The following morning, Yamame would learn two things.

A spider overstrained, told the first of these, slept very well regardless of an inside upheaval. As Yamame Kurodani was a spider beyond all doubt, so too did she sleep very well – regardless of a swelling in her heart refusing to heal. So well had Yamame Kurodani slept, in fact, and risen so early, that when she dug out of her sheets and quit her bedroom, her favourite human – who would be seen preparing to or breaking his fast already by this happening – was nowhere in evidence in the kitchen.

Though Yamame had met this reality with a blunted disappointment (why did she – questions like these by now were naïve), she put a fire under the stove all the same, and put on a tall stockpot of cold stream-water. When the water had heated enough so as to be little under boiling, Yamame grabbed the huge pot in two hands, and shuffled out the back-door, beyond which the little shower-cabin she and her human had built long months before was standing.


A delightful half hour later, Yamame Kurodani, wrapped in an earthen bathrobe embroidered with fractal patterns, walked back in through the same door. Towelling her hair (and promising herself to lash it back up soon), flushed and soap-scented, Yamame shuffled across the kitchen, then for her cosy salon, where she would complete her morning rituals on the cushions of her sofa.

And there, on that very sofa, as though waiting for this very Yamame to come in, was the very human Paran.

An addendum to the previous thing Yamame Kurodani had learned: a spider overstrained slept well. A human overstrained – patently not very much. This human must have slept poorly – shadows circled his eyes; all the same, when the spinstress loomed in the periphery of his sight, accordingly the human’s head was turned, and a smile amiably offered.

“Hello.”

“Hey.”

No further words but these; but for the time, Yamame was satisfied sitting down beside him and re-ordering her hair. The human was silently watching; still, beneath any vexation that may or may not have appeared to her mind at him doing so first thing in the morning, Yamame Kurodani felt on some level a touch gratified.

It was when Yamame was rolling her hair into a bun and tying it up with her second favourite bow, that her human (first of the favourites himself) spoke what was on his mind.

What was, was Yamame.

“Yamame.”

Or at least her name; but Yamame Kurodani obliged. “Mhm? What is it, Paran?”

“… A question.”

“Of course,” Yamame chuckled. The word was growing to be a regular snake. “Shoot. I’ll have some questions before I have breakfast, why not. You are making breakfast, too. I don’t care how short you’ve slept. It’s morning, and there’s work to be done. Well?”

“Yes, of course,” said Paran first of all. “As for my question…” There was a pause. Then, Yamame’s human spat the question out all at once. “Yesterday,” he said. “Yesterday, did I lose?”

The spinstress froze with her fingers tangled up in hair and ribbon. Yet when she faced her human, no mockery – or japery, or even shame – was visible. “What…” Yamame choked out, “What exactly do you mean?”

“Our game,” said Paran, so serious that, had one trundled by, the roll-bellied Yama may well take him for one of their number and employ him. “Our game yesterday – did I lose it?”


( ) No.
( ) Yes.
>> No. 15178
File 148115945065.png - (439.75KB, 800x1000, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_taikyokuturugi__.png) [iqdb]
15178
[x] No.
-[x]I am the one who lost.

And how!
>> No. 15179
(X) No.
>> No. 15180
(X) No.
>> No. 15181
(x) No.
>> No. 15182
Fuck I don't even remember the rules... oh well.

[x] No.
-[x]I am the one who lost.
>> No. 15183
[x] No.
-[x]I am the one who lost.

This just feels right.
>> No. 15184
Why does it matter?
>> No. 15185
(x) No.
>> No. 15186
>>15182
Dude, read the other one. Whoever disobeyed the other lost. And he asked to be punched if things got good, for some strange reason. And Yamame obeyed because we're retarded.

So, technically, no one lost. But, realistically, she lost. That's what I think anyway.
>> No. 15188
[x] No.
-[x]I am the one who lost.
>> No. 15189
>>15188
Oh whoops
>> No. 15190
>>15188
Oh whoops
>> No. 15191
[x] No

Rereading the rules of the game there, neither of them won or lost, so it's more like a tie.
>> No. 15192
File 148167345963.jpg - (451.15KB, 1024x1024, 1481238053273.jpg) [iqdb]
15192
(X) No.

Winning and losing. This was intimate territory to Yamame’s mind, and well-trodden; but often though she had gamed with the Oni on which could faster empty a keg, or have the other drunk under the table, this game’s convolutions were – in the absence of a cleverer turn of phrase – by half more convoluted.

So Yamame Kurodani carefully recounted the rules in her head. So her heart flittered inside its cage when she recalled her adamant delivery of the terms. So her fangs pinched her lower lip as – one by one, from embarrassing start to agonising finish – she examined each and succeeding round of the game for earmarks of victory.

None were making themselves marked.

Yamame Kurodani, surrendering, nudged her head weakly left and right. “See,” she said, “I don’t think either one of us had the win.”

A slow, unexpected frown compressed the human’s brows in answer.

“… Is that so?” he asked.

Yamame shaped a powerless smile. “Isn’t it, though? We were interrupted. Ahead of that, neither one of us was failing too spectacularly. And afterwards… Well, afterwards we both soundly gave it up. So, there’s no winner here; none, maybe but whoever managed to chase an earth spider under her bed merely by smashing down her front door. That one won her own game. Not me, that’s for certain.”

“Not you?”

“Not me,” the spinstress shook her head again. “Me, I’m about the only one who lost… things. My own game and… and more.”

“… How do you figure?”

“The… The last order,” Yamame flinched re-recalling; “before our visitor – you told me to… to turn around, yes? Twice, at that – and I didn’t. All right, we were interrupted, I grant you; but, if you want to get technical, that there was the last turn – your turn, and your order. So, if you want to get technical, I lost our game. You didn’t. You got your prize, even. We went to bed. To sleep. That was your prize, wasn’t it? So no. If you want to get technical, you didn’t lose anything. The only silly one who did was—”

“I didn’t want to get technical.”

Yamame Kurodani, her own brows meeting above her nose, looked to the side at her human.

Paran was fingering his eyelids. Then, Paran wasn’t fingering his eyelids; and, so released, his eyes wrenched open to give to Yamame a stare which pinned her to her half of the sofa. Not too long hers alone; for then, surprising her stone-still, the human reached out a yearning hand…

… And touched it to one of Yamame’s feverish cheeks.

Here was the second thing Yamame Kurodani would learn this morning. That a spider, however far strayed, could never escape completely from her own self. That, with time – and space, and separation – away from whatever had run it to its burrow, the spider would, as clothes stuffed in the farthest end of the wardrobe do, eventually become unearthed again. That, in the same fell comeback, it would string the muscles of her fingers taut – letting Yamame’s ribbon to fall on her lap, and her golden hair to spill down her shoulders. That – and this was the scary part – the spider would slip entirely beneath the human’s lulled notice.

The human’s and – what was even scarier – her very own as well.

“Yamame.”

“Ye—Yes?” yelped Yamame, clamping down so hard on her rousing instincts the Buddhist Hijiri would have welcomed her instantly with open arms. “What… What is it?”

Her human sounded pained. “… You look amazing with your hair down.”

Yamame Kurodani swallowed a globe of spit. “Then why… Why do you look like you’re upset?”


The human Paran removed his hand. Then, standing up, he gave to the spinstress a smile so sweet, so saccharine, almost at once Yamame Kurodani knew mistakes had been made – and not by him.

“Figure it out,” he told her gently, and headed for the kitchen.


>> No. 15193
Is he mad because he lost too and she still doesn't realize it?

Because I'm thinking that I'm as stupid as our dear protagonist. Or at least that's how Paran makes me feel every god damn time.
>> No. 15194
>>15193
What can we do? We're just dumb, dense earth spider. Go us.
>> No. 15195
>>15192
OH MY GOD PARAN

WILL YOU JUST

COMMUNICATE
>> No. 15196
Men! Am I right guys? can't live with 'em, can't melt their insides into a delicious slurry and then drink it or a shrine maiden exterminates you.
>> No. 15197
File 148228234577.jpg - (381.67KB, 809x800, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_shouji_nigou__05.jpg) [iqdb]
15197


Yamame Kurodani did not figure it out.

Yamame Kurodani could not figure it out. Certainly not before her human called her over to breakfast – nor after they had finished wearing out their supply of delicacies in (what may be imagined as something even quieter than) their regular quiet. Not before the human stood up and hurled himself into clean-up routines – nor after he had shooed Yamame off to her own assignments. Not before the spinstress huffed an exasperated, “Snake!”… Nor after she had clicked the door of her study firmly shut behind her back.

Yamame Kurodani could not figure it out. But, much though she would sigh all over it afterwards, once her brain had swapped frustrating words for ink and lambskin, lines and curves and figures, what matter her human’s unspoken offences had made was fast unspooled into irrelevance.

Across the next hours, an unobtrusive (but still obscuring) hummock was raised from the surrounds of the bath-house described on the parchment, as was a tasteful parterre – with flowerbeds and winding flagstone paseos for the bathers to walk and moult the excess heat. A small arbour – to sit and take tea in – as well. Almost, and Yamame Kurodani, the Underworld’s most tireless architect, would have – for no reason but her creativity desired – added in tables for shōgi and other entertainments to the project, too; then, however – and it was a “however” as brusque as an overlarge prey tearing down a web – the flow of peaceful, productive hours was abruptly staunched.

The stopper to these hours… was a knock on her sanctum’s door. Against and despite the inner architect Yamame raging for having to put down her pencils, the outer, physical Yamame put on a pretty, welcoming smile, and turned around in her chair to call out:

“Yes? Come on in!”

Yamame’s smile brightened first – then shrivelled up and became a lack of one, as Paran’s own lack of smile unfolded into view. The human, stiffly, inched the door ajar till just the breadth of his head may be squeezed through. Which it then promptly was.

“… Visitors,” the frowning head announced.

And visitors they audibly were.

A voice, which could not have been Paran’s – less the man were magickally turned fifteen years younger and the opposite sex – spoke in irritable tones from the other side sooner than either Yamame or her human could do anything else to precede it.

“Would you kindly?” the visitor complained. “I know how to swivel a door, thank you. I’m not an invalid.”

Paran’s face turned fifteen years but older in – and for – and instant; then, sighing, Yamame’s favourite human shoved the offending door to the limit of its openness.

What stood with its hands mounted irascibly on its hips behind it, scowling a tiny scowl up at Yamame’s human, was something which – had the Underworld not been the Underworld, and Yamame’s home not Yamame’s home – could be mistaken for a female human nestling. As tall (or short) as Paran’s waist, no wider than half of Yamame’s favourite; but what this visitor lacked for in dimensions, the confidence with which she carried them became the responsibilities attached to her name. For here was one belonged to the Underworld’s mind-reader clan. Here was a woman of the Komeiji family – small though they were, all the same governors of the underground realm since uncountable years. Stuffed inside a dumpy, flower-patterned cloak (no doubt to ward off the tunnels’ cold), the bottom end dragging miserably on the floor; but mode of dress was no status indicator in the Underworld – and a Komeiji was a Komeiji, no difference.

“Never mind,” sighed the Komeiji girl, genuinely more fit to be lifted and spun than for governance. “Never mind. Have it your way. Menfolk… Hello there, Kurodani. Good day. I’m not interrupting, am I?”

Joined with the Komeiji’s levered attention, Yamame Kurodani, mother of plagues – but for all intents and purposes mistress of the house as well – picked herself up from her chair, and bowed her head. “Good day,” she replied. “Um, I’ll be honest—”

“You will, too.”

“… I was at work just now,” Yamame finished, the edges of her mouth quirking. “Although, likely that doesn’t account for very much anymore. Now you’re here anyway, I mean.”

“Not much,” agreed the Komeiji; “and I am here anyway, yes. Now, now, Kurodani, don’t take this otherwise than it is – I don’t mean to keep a genius mind away from its entertainment overlong. Those need their release – else things happen. Things which neither of us could possibly regret more than the other. As a matter of— ugh, in point,” the little governess stressed, as though correcting a mistake, “in point of fact, I’ve still more chores of my own to tick off today. So say, Kurodani – why do we not sit down, and get it out of both of our ways at once? Hmm? Pretty please; and, if you would, don’t make it too hard a ‘please,’ either,” she added. “I know you don’t like us a lot; but, as someone I know says: not liking someone doesn’t mean we should want to make their every waking moment a tragedy.”

Yamame lifted a brow. “Visiting me is a tragedy?”

The Komeiji girl humoured the jab with a tiny chuckle. “I saw that coming,” she said; “but no, not really. The caves are, and that cold. I hate that cold – and the quicker we are done here, the quicker I’ll be able to get past what I need to get past of it to get back home. Well?”

“… All right,” Yamame gave up. “Very good. I’ll make—”

The little governess shrugged an arm out of her cloak, raising a hand up. “Thanks all the same,” she said, “but no need to make it official. Tea would make it. As a— bother, in point of fact, all I want is to ask you a few questions. The tea wouldn’t even cool enough to drink. So I promise you. Send your concierge away – he’s giving my brain an ache – and I’ll be gone sooner than you can decide if I’m bothering you at all, or if you should perhaps report me. So pretty please, Kurodani – pretty, pretty please.”

Yamame didn’t please – not yet at any rate; instead, she glanced over to where the man Paran – poised like a snake – was hovering above the Komeiji girl. The glance caught; and, sensing it, Yamame’s human quit eyeing the little governess and her cloak. Very faintly, Yamame shook her head. Very faintly, the human nodded his. Then, less faintly, he stepped out of the doorway to allow the Komeiji through.

Once she was, he shut it close again, with himself outside. A sprinkling of heavy footfalls, and he returned to whatever it was he had been doing before. Cleaning? Not unthinkable; but for Yamame’s bedroom, the house had not seen a mote of dust for months. Nor had the stove puffed stored-up soot, or dirt screech underfoot on the floorboards. Concierge, Yamame repeated inside her thoughts. It was a prettier word than “caretaker” and no mistake; but, she weirdly discovered, less intimate. Colder. More impersonal. Not the one she wanted.

Had she not been turned away, the Komeiji girl – who was, in point of fact, turned just so – could have caught the mother of plagues, Yamame Kurodani, bite down on her lower lip in frustration. She didn’t. The little governess was stuck, glaring after the departed Paran, as though the human had given her an insult the daughter of the Komeiji had at once fully expected, but silently hoped would pass her by.

“Why?” she was muttering under her nose. “Why do they do that? Why?”

Yamame Kurodani blinked away her strange grievances (not too far, but far enough) – then did so again, when the Komeiji girl turned around, and revealed her own lower lip to be squeezed between little white teeth.

“Why do they do what?” Yamame asked, her curiosity speaking before her mislike of her guest.

The Komeiji girl was a picture of ruffled pride. “The doors!” she moaned. “The deuced doors! It’s just a slab of wood with a handle on the side. Why do men think we can’t operate those by ourselves? It isn’t sorcery! Argh, it just… just gets up in my hair so much! So much in my hair!”


Yamame Kurodani, mother of plagues, met this new – but not unknown – plague with a sympathetic smile. Very little though it was, it was gratifying just the same.

Men and architecture weren’t, after all, troubles exclusive to herself.


>> No. 15198
File 148228512990.jpg - (39.87KB, 618x558, 15442119_10207303091725795_9095823317874657144_n.jpg) [iqdb]
15198
>The caves are, and that cold. I hate that cold – and the quicker we are done here, the quicker I’ll be able to get past what I need to get past of it to get back home. Well?”
>“… All right,” Yamame gave up. “Very good. I’ll make you a better coat”

I was totally expecting this. How dare she have cold in front of the beast seamstress in Gensoyko.
>> No. 15199
File 14822926686.jpg - (46.84KB, 707x1000, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_rimu_kingyo_orig.jpg) [iqdb]
15199


Twenty minutes later, Yamame quit her bedroom possessed of a twain of new things.

The first of these was an opinion. The second was a clear heart.


“Well, did you?”

These had been the Komeiji’s first words – after she had seated herself in Yamame’s chair, and Yamame – on her unmade bed.

“Well, did I what?” Yamame had returned.

The Komeiji’s patience had not been sewn with a thread which stretched much; and, the piece of her mind given what she thought of Yamame’s hostility (not much), and how much easier she would make it by answering straight (much, much), the little governess had restated her question.

“I didn’t kill anyone,” Yamame had insisted.

This had been good enough for the Komeiji. “That’s good enough for me,” she had said. “Good. It’s beneath you, and we would have been very put off if you had. Now, Kurodani. Why do you not tell me a bit about your work? What have you been poring over recently?” Once Yamame had picked her jaw up from her lap, and given a voice to her confusion (a suspicious voice) at such a dramatic transition, the little governess had laughed. “Mind, Kurodani,” she had told the frowning earth spider. “Hate us, deride us, push us away all your heart desires; but no matter your hate, we will always be – and have always been – on your side. Obscure, prevaricate, dissemble and delay all you want – but we will have already ascertained what needed be ascertained. The Moon-doctor’s pet spoke of spider poison, and yet this is not how you would have killed. Without this door is a scrumptious young human, ripe to sate all manner of appetites, and yet he is lacking for no livelihood. Behind me on the desk is evidence of higher pursuits than satisfying a petty instinct. The entire case is a foregone conclusion, Kurodani. Why have I dragged my feet all the way up here then, you’re wondering? This is because, in the eventuality the aforesaid pet comes to bother us again, my family wants something to rub in their face to demonstrate how useless they are being, and how productive you have been compared to them. That’s all. Mind, Kurodani. We will be putting your sisters to the question; they are more excitable than you, and closer the description – but you… You are their elder. That human we mentioned? He is proof – maddening proof, but proof – perhaps also their better. Taking after the best, perhaps.

“So you see, Kurodani,” the Komeiji had finished, smiling an impatient smile. “So you see – we are on your side. Notwithstanding how much you hate us, how much we are up in your hair, or how enervating you find our attentions – interests of the Underworld are always first to our minds. This is what I’ve been taught, and this is what I mean to propagate. So, to aid this noble, noble mission of mine… Give me something with which I could send a useless pet back to their master short of an ear – pretty, pretty please, Kurodani. The more, in point of fact, the better.”

That had been when Yamame had received her clear heart. The opinion had followed in a short time; and the opinion was this: that a Komeiji (or this Komeiji at least) made for as good and graceful a listener as a victim of listening to twice the architectural declamation at once (spoken and thought) might be. More graceful, for certain, than some Yamame had boasted to until now.


Twenty and one minute later, Yamame Kurodani, the Underworld’s greatest architect reaffirmed, stood in the entranceway of her house, watching one of the dreaded Komeiji mind-readers wrestle with the laces of her high travel boots.

Yamame’s human – one who, someway, somehow, somewise, had aided in establishing her innocence simply by being without the door – was now beside her, as well watching the little governess’s efforts. As not to agitate, enervate, or madden the recently smoothed-out mind-reader, Yamame held on to one of the human’s arms – keeping him well, and away, the front door, which – if opened by the wrong hand – might again ruche the delicate Kurodani-Komeijic relations.

The Komeiji girl at last tightened the laces on the twelfth tier (of fifteen) of eyelets on her boots, and gave both her hosts the benefit of her stately full height of two-thirds Yamame.

“Off to catch more spiders, then,” said the little governess, clapping her hands on her sides. “That, or the chill. Maybe both? Gods above, I hope not.” Then, very plainly noticing something – something in the arrangement of Yamame and her human – the girl’s little nose twitched with a nosiness worthy of a nose thrice the size. Paran’s, maybe. “Indulge me, Kurodani,” said the Komeiji, eyes narrowing. “Other than that you work together – far as I gather – what kind of… association do you two have, anyway?”

“Association?” Yamame looked up at her human. “What kind of association do we have?”

Paran looked down at Yamame. A Paran’s worth of words purled out of his mouth. This left the mouth resolutely closed, and the words at a secure count of zero.

“What I meant,” the Komeiji girl explained, “is what kind of relationship you two have. Other than that you work together. This is known.”


Yamame – again – looked up at her human.

This time – and she discovered this as the human sternly looked back – it was suddenly her mouth that wasn’t opening.


( ) Partners.
( ) Partners…?
( ) ???
>> No. 15200
(X) Partners.
-(X)... a very, very close partners.
>> No. 15201
File 148229707923.jpg - (149.08KB, 486x567, Satori985.jpg) [iqdb]
15201
This is even more of a non-vote than usual, isn't it? Shame on you.

(x) Partners.
>> No. 15202
(x) Partners.

Satori is in this story!
>> No. 15203
(X) Partners…?
>> No. 15205
(X) Partners…?
>> No. 15206
File 148232250459.jpg - (3.80KB, 125x111, 130038661051s.jpg) [iqdb]
15206
I like this Satori. I'm firmly on spiderbutt's side, but... she's pretty good.

[x] Partners

Communication issues and a terrible sex life? It's like they're married already!
>> No. 15207
(X) Partners.
>> No. 15208
File 148234996584.png - (216.73KB, 425x566, 139637382044.png) [iqdb]
15208
(X) Partners.

“… Partners.” The statement was delivered with Yamame’s voice, from Yamame’s lips, off of Yamame’s tongue. All but, and Yamame would have thought herself the deliverer. “We’re… We’re partners,” she said – in this instance quite consciously – eyes gliding back over to the Komeiji girl. “Mhm.” She nodded. “That’s probably the best word to put to it. We work together, live together, and trade services. That makes us partners – doesn’t it?”

The little governess’s brows rose halfway up her forehead. “Is that so, now?”

“We work together, live together, and trade services,” Yamame repeated. “Paran handles talks for me on the surface; in return, I lend him a roof over his head and food for his plate. He negotiates and ferries my payments, and in return, I… lend him a roof… and food for his plate. He cooks said food and keeps the house habitable, and in return… Well, there’s the roof – and the food.” The spinstress felt an ungainly pink slowly working up her face. “All right. Maybe it isn’t very balanced,” she confessed; “but it’s still a partnership! It is, isn’t it… right?”

The Komeiji girl said nothing; only, coquettishly tilting her little head, she slid her gaze diagonally up and to the side of the flushing Yamame.

Had Yamame Kurodani been quicker on the pick-up, she might have done the same the mind-reader had. Had Yamame’s human not been wrenching his arm out of Yamame’s hold – or looping it round her back, or grabbing her by the flank, or scaring the earth spider corpse-stiff doing so – she might, if nothing else, done something to hedge against the previously slow pink exploding red all over her face. Had those been the case, Yamame Kurodani might then stop her human from leaning down; she might swat away the fingers parting her hair. Most of all, Yamame Kurodani – had she but not been the surprised Yamame Kurodani she was – might not have the human pressing his lips to her cheek in full sight of their visitor.

The Yamame Kurodani she was, needless to say, did the explicit opposite to the above.

A moment later, as gently as tugging down a wallpaper to be reapplied soon, Yamame’s favourite human pulled his trespassing lips away.

“… Those kinds of partners,” he told her, his expression very serious, “they don’t do this, Yamame.”

Yamame Kurodani, mother of plagues, the yearly malady, had a great many replies to be given out in occasions like these. Many of those replies were clipped and easy to articulate – permutations of “Why?!” and “Stupid!” and “Snake!” and likewise; but whatever were pushing now out of her clamping throat, were blown away in a gust of clamorous, belly-hugging laughter.

Not her laughter – but the laughter of the Komeiji girl, now bent over and afoul of the nastiest bout of cackles.

“Oh my,” the tiny mind-reader gasped past the bouts. “Oh my, oh no… Oh dear, dear me. Mother is going to turn purple once she hears about this. Totally, totally purple! Taking after ‘the best,’ indeed! Oh dearest, dearest me…”


The youngest of the Komeiji, righting herself, wiped the tears from her autumn-sky eyes with a sleeve of her flowery coat.

“Oh my,” she said. “Well, I did ask. My mistake, and my stomach.” The Komeiji girl shook her head. Then, she grinned. “Gods above, Kurodani. Hope to Old Hell this one hasn’t had anything terrifying bound to him. Those kinds of men are the worst.


>> No. 15209
File 148235222971.jpg - (381.68KB, 1410x2000, dont_understand_my_sister_15.jpg) [iqdb]
15209
>Gods above, Kurodani. Hope to Old Hell this one hasn’t had anything terrifying bound to him. Those kinds of men are the worst

YYOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU
>> No. 15210
>>15209

Please explain
>> No. 15211
>>15210
Tenshi Is In This Story reference

Also, is this satori really Satori? She mentioned 'mother', and I don't recall Satori having one. Satori and Garion's crotchfruit perhaps?
>> No. 15212
>>15211
Satori is a name and they wouldn't be stupid enough to repeat the same mistake (what kind of mother names her daughter with the name of her race anyway?)

If it helps, their daughter is named San in an April Fools thread
>> No. 15213
>>15211

>crotchfruit
Do you have to use that word?
>> No. 15214
>>15208
> Mother
> that picture

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAF
>> No. 15215
>>15212
Where does it say her name is Satori?
>> No. 15216
>>15213
'Child' is boring word..

Wild Random Theory: Paran is this Komeiji's brother, and thus Satori and Garion's crot- I mean son. Paran and this Komeiji seems to be irritable to each other, like siblings would. Perhaps Paran stumbled upon Yam's dwelling during his journey back home after spending some time wandering above ground like Garion.
>> No. 15217
>>15216
Or alternatively, the 'Mother' this Komeiji referred to is Garion's mam, and this Komeiji really is Satori, and Paran is her kid.
>> No. 15218
File 14824448561.jpg - (412.25KB, 720x960, 60429326_p4.jpg) [iqdb]
15218
Or alt-alternatively, Occam’s Razor applies to more than Yours Truly’s drinking night aftermaths.

Good day. OPenile Devastation here. Reminder C91 is coming up.

My work is demolishing me lately (12-hour shifts in the busiest season of the year messes up my Zen, dudes), and my update schedule has been atrocious to reflect it. Sorry for that. Worry not, however – for it is about to get even worse! Christmas is around the corner after all, and I can’t promise you an update before it hits fully, and I am embroiled in things sorely lacking for adorable spider girls. Additionally I have been oddly aching after some Banki writings of late… That makes two things I’d much rather weren’t happening.

Will you ever forgive me? Keep in mind: if you don’t, I’m cutting this story’s throat. So divide the world into those who forgive me and those who weep, and put yourself on the correct side, “pretty please.”
>> No. 15219
Eh, when it comes to stories, it's better late than dead.
>> No. 15220
I dunno man...forgiveness isn't something I offer lightly. I suppose I will through, but only because I usually end of working 12s this time of year as well, since so many people take time off to be with family.
>> No. 15224
File 148297313637.jpg - (117.06KB, 940x1440, 48537111_p14.jpg) [iqdb]
15224


Whatever else to which Paran had been bound, nothing else than infinite diligence was manifesting.

The Komeiji girl sent off and fare-welled, two blinks of an eye had already seen Yamame’s human launched off again toward the kitchen. Must have been the same diligence, then (for what else, the earth spider couldn’t imagine), which had whipped him around when Yamame’s voice (nowhere so obedient) had at last worked out of her mouth.

“Stop right there!”

The voice had been rendered shrill by the pressures battling inside Yamame’s body – but it had worked, and that was everything that made a difference in the end. No deliberation had preceded it; still, when the human had matched her glare, it had all been very deliberate.

“… Yes?” Paran had asked, as equable as a brick wall. “What is it?”

Yamame Kurodani, never one to let a challenge pass, had taken the question and spun it around. “What was it, you mean!” she had said. “What was that? What were you thinking? Why? What was that even about?”

“What was even what about?”

“Cheek!” Yamame had spat, “Touching! And in front of Komeiji’s brat, too!”

Paran, brows rumpling, had folded his arms. “… What about it?”

Yamame had swallowed. “We weren’t…! That wasn’t…! I’d thought that was just for us!”

The human had not relented. “Isn’t it? I didn’t touch the girl.”

“That’s not what I—!” Yamame had begun.

Then, however – spearing through whatever arguments were still issuing from the earth spider’s throat – her favourite human had smiled. “… I did warn you,” he had told her, even as Yamame’s jaw had stuck so fast it might well have been nailed close. “I did warn you, didn’t I? That I’d be ‘very annoying starting today.’ Well. Here you have it, Yamame. Altogether your lapse.”

The human had uncurled his smile at having delivered these words; and then, leaving the earth spider with a beetroot for a face and porridge for wits, he had withdrawn – to whatever all-important house-chore had been interrupted by the Komeiji girl’s visiting.


It had been hours since; and Yamame Kurodani, she who had faulted her human with a brick wall’s stubbornness, now sheathed her drawing tools in the drawers of her desk, below a now all-but-complete draft of Myouren-ji’s bathhouse-to-be.

A list of invoices had been drawn up as well as lines and angles: names atop names atop names of material and materiel the Underworld’s architect and her associates would require from the priestess Hijiri. None too sparing, perhaps – beside hitherto projects her crew had taken under; but any overhead was a bargaining ground, and those may be taken or given in the midst and mists of negotiations. Negotiations which – if he was yet himself – Yamame’s human would, in the coming days, carry to Myouren-ji’s large-hearted master. Time would tell how large.

As for Yamame Kurodani, bound in the present, this marked the extent of her duties for the meanwhile; and the spinstress, stretching all four of her limbs, quit her chair, as well as her bedroom, and went off to find him whose own duties were yet to be satisfied.

This much she found in her salon – fixed once more atop her sofa, wreathed in a smell of cleaning salts, with the still-unfinished book opened on his lap. As she quietly approached, Yamame – undetectable on her bare feet – tugged the bow out of her hair; then, over and across the arm-rest of the sofa, the earth spider jumped – landing on her haunches at her human’s side. Though not the heaviest among her sisters (certainly nowhere near the top), all the same the cushions rippled underneath Yamame, and – as certain as a fly catching in the far end of a web – so too did this motion travel on, until it broke the human’s notice.

No notice harder to break than Paran’s; but with enough spider (still not the heaviest), that as well was doable.

Yamame’s favourite human shut his book. Then, as though expecting her all along, he turned – very calmly – and met with an earth spider after reparations.

For all the good it did his near future, he did short, good work of whatever surprise he had for Yamame’s appearance. “… Take it the project’s done, then,” he said. “… Is it?”

Yamame gave a nod. “Yes. The project – and figures; I’ve got everything done Hijiri may want to see.”

“Can I see?”

“No.”

Had Yamame Kurodani not been the genius she was, she might have considered the human’s shaping frown a compliment for her work’s limitless attraction; yet since a genius she was, the Underworld’s architect held her celebrations off. “Not yet, anyhow,” she calmed her human down; “it isn’t even evening, yet. I’ll fill you in on everything, of course – so you know what exactly you’re dropping on Hijiri’s head – but not yet. No. Not yet.”

Paran’s brows began relaxing. It was a slow, careful motion – but there it was. “… When?”

“Later. After this. Maybe tomorrow.” Yamame bored her spider eyes into her human’s. “… I’ve let my hair down for you, you know.”

The human’s brows stopped relaxing. “… I see that,” he drawled. “… Why?”

“It’s not yesterday anymore.”

“… It isn’t,” Paran agreed, though not before taking a deeper breath. “It hasn’t been since morning, really.” The comment struck a wrong thread in Yamame’s mind; but sooner than she could untangle its meaning, her favourite human put his book away and demanded, “… So what?”


Had it been a demand? But Yamame Kurodani was too far woven into her own visions of the next few minutes to allow for sidelights on her human’s less understandable quirks. There was only one quirk which mattered now. The same quirk which, days before, Yamame Kurodani would have called human.

Now, all evidence presented, it seemed it was an earth spider’s as well.


( ) Go for the kill.
( ) The kill will come to her.
>> No. 15225
(X) Go for the kill.
>> No. 15226
[x] Go for the kill

We have been cautious long enough, time for some initiative (in b4 situation FUBAR)
>> No. 15227
(x) Go for the kill.
>> No. 15228
[x] Hurry up and kiss the man already.
>> No. 15229
>>15228
Don't be so hasty. The correct procedure for courting a man is as intricate and precise as a well played game of chess
>> No. 15230
File 148310585264.jpg - (25.24KB, 600x375, bruh.jpg) [iqdb]
15230
>>15229

Anon....

[X] Go for the kill
>> No. 15231
[X] Go for the kill.

A spider would've waited for the prey to come to her, but at this point, her human is already caught in her web anyway, so it's time to dig in.

...inb4 Yams literally kills Paran.
>> No. 15234
[x] Go for the kill.
>> No. 15236
(x) The kill will come to her.

Bah, I read to fast and caught up. Usually like to stay several posts behind.

Good show though. Very good.
>> No. 15237
>>15224
This story has made me come down with love-sickness for a straw-haired earth spider.

[x]Lets attack aggressively
>> No. 15248
File 148510963142.jpg - (748.41KB, 1000x1344, 60841842_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
15248
Garbage here. This is not your kind of update.

Which I’m really sorry about. Still, thought you might appreciate a heads-up. This story isn’t dead, or even dropped – but I am. Weather broke, and I caught a tough case of winter depression. This is going to blow over, I just can’t tell you (or myself) when. Sooner rather than later, I hope.

If only I had a cute dullahan to pick me up, that’d be gone in an instant...
>> No. 15249
>>15248
Hey anon, you're a faggot. Have a reply and get better.
>> No. 15250
>>15248
Get better soon ya herald of cute spider.
>> No. 15251
>>15248
If I wasn't on hiatus myself I'd write some Banki for ya.
>> No. 15252
File 148541642236.png - (605.27KB, 600x848, 60522572_p1.png) [iqdb]
15252
>>15248
Have a late Christmas present, you dork, and keep your chin up; lest a dullahan lop off your head at the stooped neck.
>> No. 15266
File 14886821367.jpg - (455.40KB, 1600x1200, 49340042_p4.jpg) [iqdb]
15266
(X) Go for the kill.

And an earth spider, opposite to humanity, needed not moderate her quirks.

So – an earth spider yet, despite recent slights – Yamame Kurodani rose up on her knees. So the greatest of spinstresses fixed her hands on the human’s shoulders. So the mother of plagues – afflicted more herself as of late – matched her amber gaze against that of her partner’s. So she swallowed down the itch to curl up and roll away when the match was joined very well.

“I’m…” Yamame began, “… going to do something. Steady for me a little, OK?”

“What is that?” the human asked.

“Something to do with touching.

“… What is that?” he asked again.

“Something you didn’t do yesterday,” Yamame explained. “Something you didn’t… want to do yesterday. That. That something.”

The human’s shoulders tensed up – then sagged. “… I see,” he gave up. “… Very good.”

Yamame giggled her nervousness. “That’s it? ‘Very good?’ No bargaining?”

Paran’s head rotated left and right. “No,” he said. “… No,” he said once more, firmer. “I knew what it would be.”

“Still you aren’t going to try to run away?”

His lips curled up sardonically. “Would running have worked?”

“Maybe for a time,” Yamame allowed. “Then, I’d track you down. Then, I wouldn’t be so patient anymore. I’m not patient even now.”

There was a wrong in the way her weight distributed on her human, and Yamame, the geometrical sage she was, let go of his shoulders, and looped her arms behind his neck instead. A fool’s hope had her impressed – for a moment – the human had leaned in the better to support said weight; but this impression went no further than the moment, and Paran’s expression remained as unsupportive as it had been.

Yamame’s impatience threatened collapse.

“So there,” she rounded off, at no point in particular. “There. That’s right. I’m going to touch you – and nothing else you say or do can head it off now. Not running. Not excuses. Nothing.”

“Nothing at all?” Paran wanted to know.

“Nothing at all,” Yamame told him, and it was all but a promise. “It is inevitable. You’re caught. Stuck. There’s no web, but you’re stuck all the same. There’s only one thing you can do now, and that’s to steady for me. So… do steady for me, Paran. OK?”

“… I would have anyway,” Paran grunted in return.

Yamame Kurodani did not believe him. Not at all.

Yet belief – wherever it was by now, the elusive thing – came out unnecessary either way; and the human did steady: straightened his back, shut close his eyes, even angled his head a few degrees to the side all in one smooth motion – as though all of these elements were crucial someway for what would follow.

They were, too; and Yamame – sliding even closer than she had been already – dimly came to understand how important each was to prevent further embarrassment for either one of them. For the further Yamame leant on her human, the more of her weight rested solely on his back. For the closer she was, the more apparent it became there would no longer be anywhere comfortable to set their eyes; and as for those delusorily few degrees at which his head was resting, Yamame found soon enough they smartly kept her nose from smashing painfully into his. Almost, and Yamame Kurodani – a spider seconds away from her goal – would have thought her human acquainted with being touched in this, unusual, way.

Almost… and she would have thought he had been, by someone else, already.

The idea bubbled up to the surface of her mind, and instantly began to jell into an ugly skin; and had Yamame not chosen just then to – at last – softly press her lips on her human’s, it may very well have soured the moment without reversal.

It was good, then, that she had.

The sensation – as many late sensations had been, where her human was involved – was novel.

Not the novelty of a stranger ritual being inflicted on her hands; nor that of a familiar one being laden with a new meaning. This novelty – it came from something external: external to the satisfaction of having achieved her desires, or having contested her shame and won said contest – external, even, to the faint, physical pleasure of her skin making intimate contact with somebody else’s. It was, in truth, external to any part of Yamame – whether the part was free, or engaged closely with her human.

What it wasn’t external to, was the human himself; and Yamame, a few long seconds more in the pass, at last put a word to this novel feeling.

It was being trusted.

It had to be; though her human had given her pieces of trust before, none had matched the trust he was now displaying. None had ever had him trust Yamame this far. None had, indeed, ever before had him allow the mother of plagues (insofar as anyone could disallow her from anything) this close to a part of himself so critical to his work – or indeed continued well-being. None had ever had him submit so completely to the whims of she, who could end this well-being with a thought. Most of all, none of them – even the flash of trust from the previous day, when they had been together in her bedroom – had ever made Yamame Kurodani’s tiny heart beat this fast.

Was trust supposed to do that? But Yamame Kurodani had no time to answer questions nobody anyway had asked; the human was making a distressed sound, and – with a pull of distress of her own – she remembered Paran had been keeping his breath inside him all the while.

Afoul of exceeding again her own principles and cursing whichever god had designed her human to be so dependent on air, Yamame broke the trust which he had so strenuously raised up from nothing.

The trust, the physical contact, all the rest – everything was broken together; and Yamame Kurodani, silently cursing, drew herself away.

And yet, when the human had sucked in his due of fresh air, and when he opened his eyes – first up to half-way, then with a rusty difficulty to full openness – her first thought was that she liked those eyes. Maybe not the eyes themselves – for this would brand her tastes odder than the oddest of youkai – but the way they looked at her cut a good approximate for her confused feelings. It was an approximate which Yamame – unaccountably – found herself wishing extended to indefinity.


It did not extend that much. It did not extend half as much.

It did not, in fact, extend as far as Paran’s mouth; but – once that, too, was opened – something else came out which arrested her attention.

“Here it is, then,” the mouth was saying. “All the work you did, right there. Months. You ass. You twice-folly-loving ass.”


>> No. 15267
Dawn breaks on winter. Hibernating beasts awaken.
>> No. 15268
Aw yeah, that's worth the wait.
>> No. 15269
File 148873267579.webm - (3.74MB, 512x384, MFW spider upates.webm) [iqdb]
15269
Ayyyy this dude is back.
>> No. 15270
>>15266

You are the only person I know who can take two months and an entire update to utter the phrase "Yamame kisses Paran". And for some reason I cannot comprehend, I love you for it.

You gloriously circumlocutory bastard you.
>> No. 15272
File 14888059802.jpg - (580.87KB, 1536x2048, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_efukei__c0b9988a.jpg) [iqdb]
15272
Paran being as expressive as the lovechild of Rei Ayanami and a wooden plank? CHECK

Asspider second-guessing every feeling or thought she ever had every time she walks, like, five feet? CHECK

Ominous last paragraph that goes over my head but is actually harmless? CHECK

Kurodani Yamame HNG list passed
>> No. 15273
Stop saging you nerds. People need to see this on the home page.
>> No. 15274
What's so confusing? The guy didn't want to get intimately involved with Yamame(for whatever as of yet unknown reason), so when he does, he's annoyed at himself.
Seems clear-cut to me.
>> No. 15275
>>15274
You seem to be forgetting something:

I'M FUCKING RETARDED
>> No. 15277
File 148988334882.png - (258.55KB, 777x1087, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_mattari_yufi__c5.png) [iqdb]
15277


Twice-folly-loving Yamame blinked. “W—What?”

Paran’s eyes – those delightful eyes – gave a blinking of their own; and – as though only now noticing the earth spider with whom he had been sharing something which, as far as Yamame’s understanding, one did not share with those they had but recently noticed – his stare became a little wild.

“Uh—”

Throughout the next moments, the human Paran went through a peculiar sequence of changes. This was, perhaps, the least which could be said of a human who, in the span of the previous minute, had survived both the attentions of an earth spider and calling her a donkey. Still yet, for all the trust he had shown her, Yamame Kurodani was determined the end of these changes should (if nothing else) offer at least a feasible connection between the two.

It didn’t. Less – for whatever the connection was, Yamame, apparently, wasn’t it.

“… Not you,” said Paran, having gone from panic-Paran, through a shame-faced Paran, to a Paran who, had he but the ability, would burrow between the cushions of the sofa and die. “Not you, Yamame,” this last Paran groaned, denied his desires. “Just…”

“Just what?”

A fourth version of Paran came on then, and this one had its hand firmly plastered over its face. “… Me,” it said. “Just me. All me.”

“That is selfish,” joked Yamame. No humour came out of it. “I don’t understand, you know. What about you? You did fine.”

“Still alive, yes,” Paran joked back. It made for two stillborn jokes that afternoon. “As well you don’t understand, Yamame,” the human sighed. “It is easy for you, because you’ve got a lot of pride to spare. Me – not so. That’s why this is so… difficult.”

Yamame’s chest squeezed. “It costs you pride to do these things with me?”

“Yes. A lot.”

Yamame Kurodani, the yearly malady, took in a sharp breath. It was a stopgap measure. A stopgap measure and a desperate bid – a bid not to burst into a spray of wounded pride and other emotional shrapnel. As good, so, that the gap was swiftly filled in by something else.

The something was the wounded pride of someone else.

Paran was choking. Not on anything physical; but, where the frailties of human physiology were in play, words, apparently, were enough to stop up a man’s throat. “That’s—” he rattled out at last, “That’s not it, Yamame. Not because— Not because you’re—”

“Not human?” she supplied.

Paran’s eyes shut, and his head wriggled left and right, pained. “That’s not it,” he restated. “That’s… not it at all. You’ll recall I’ve… kissed you, before, yes? Once… Almost twice; and I didn’t forget for a moment what – who – you were, either. Still did it. So, no.” He shook his head again. “That’s not it.”

“What is it, then?”

Paran’s eyes laboriously inched open. Though if this had been to do the obvious and allow him to see Yamame again, the part of her which lay the greatest hold of his attention was, evidently, located someplace on her waist.

With the kind of lateness too frequent recently, Yamame Kurodani, the spinstress with the most interesting waist, became conscious her arms had remained steadily hooked around her human all throughout their talk. This, maybe immediate to an outside observer, feature of their present arrangement now had the earth spider realising, all of a sudden, that her human was still firmly within…

What was that? Yamame’s brows squished together. Kissed?… Kissing.

… Still firmly within kissing range. The thought… felt wrong. Not in terms of accuracy – this much any aforesaid observer could swear to; but to be within a striking distance from a human, and yet to crave nothing more than to touch her lips to theirs – that was wrong. Wrong and unnatural. It was vulgar and forbidden, at once base and scandalous, and – as Yamame was quickly discovering – very, very thrilling.

Too quickly, and almost too thrilling; but – in a trend of ongoing confusion – she felt somehow impossibly fragile as well. Not to be selfishly entertained. Nor was Yamame about to selfishly entertain it; though the selfishness of the Underworld’s greatest architect was in some areas subject to naughty gossip. Still, something else had the alien thought run off. Almost, and Yamame would in fact have lost it completely, when her human spoke again.

Almost.

“Would you accept,” sighed the human, “if I told you I have been wrong?”

“That’s it?” Yamame chuckled. “We’ve all been. I have been – and do you see me shedding pride about it?”

“Twice?” Paran pushed. “About the same thing – for months on end? No, this is different, Yamame.”

“What have you been wrong about?”

As Yamame had before, now it was her human who inflated his chest with a breath designed to stave off a more volatile alternative. As Yamame had not, he released it in a low, vibrating chuckle, which left him altogether deflated in the end – in more meanings than one.

“See,” he said, “now that, I can’t think how to tell you without clawing my eyes out.”

Those eyes having recently found an enthusiast in Yamame, she decided not to increase their peril any further. “Is it a human thing?” she asked instead. “I mean, what’s bothering your pride.”

Paran shook his head. “It’s a me thing.”

“A human thing, then.”

“A man thing.”

“There’s a difference?”

A small, diffident smile broke out on the human’s face. “… Guess there isn’t.”

A fifth in the line of Parans of late imposed on Yamame now came on; this one – it seemed was rapidly losing an aspect of itself. As like, the final vestiges of pride were sloughing off; or enough of it anyway – for then, the touch with which Yamame had been gifting her human for a while now was at last returned.

At first, it was her shoulders and they alone; then, as though at once hesitant but aware of the final destination, the human’s hands slowly travelled down Yamame’s sides, until stopping at her waist. The destination did not surprise her – not least because of Yamame’s previous observations – but the motion itself had somehow put her in a mind of running.

Yamame killed it off.

“So,” Paran murmured, digging his fingertips into the fabrics of her dress, “How… was it?”

The spinstress cocked her head to the side. “How was what, now?”

The probing of the fingers ceased. Then, at once, it resumed – as though the stopping had been but a misfiring nerve.

“… Kissing me,” Paran half-said, half-coughed out. “How did it… feel?

“Oh.” Yamame’s own nerves misfired. “Um. It felt… um.”

“… OK?” suggested her human.

The spinstress clutched at the offered thread. “Yes. OK. It felt… OK.” Very OK. “Or… not wrong. Maybe, if you hadn’t, you know, moved your head – then it might have been less OK. A cracked nose would have made it. Could have. Then, maybe if I’d timed myself better… Otherwise, it was OK. Yes. Very…”

“Very OK?”

Yamame nodded. “Very.”

“… Yamame?”

“Yes?”

“… You aren’t stupid,” her human said. “You aren’t, so I’m only saying this once; but that… all of that… That was also a sign of affection. You… know this, yes?”

Now you are telling me? “… I knew,” said Yamame. “Of course I knew. So what?”

“No take-backs?”

“… No.” She shook her head. “No, no take-backs. I told you before, right? That I… liked you. So no, no take-backs. No. Hold on; in the first place, that doesn’t… How would I even—”

“Yamame.” Paran grunted. “I was joking.”

About which part? wondered Yamame. But the joke was done, and the only punchline which remained seemed a certain spinstress.

The human Paran, finality weighing down every motion, let go of the earth spider’s waist. A smile made of resignation was stretching out his lips when – for the first time since before Yamame’s kissing – his eyes re-joined hers in a quiet match. The match was nowhere as even as it had been then; though, even now, the Underworld’s architect couldn’t decide on the safer bet.

“So then,” said Paran. “Want to make routine out of this?”

Yamame frowned. “Routine?” The pick of the word had somehow struck her mental net at a crooked angle. “Why ‘routine?’ What’s wrong with ‘kissing?’”

A routine,” Paran corrected. “Something regular. A rule.”

“Why is that?”

“To get used to it.” The human shrugged under her arms. “To get you used to it.”

Yamame Kurodani scrunched up her mouth. Not as though she did not want to; and yet, for all the not biting she had exhibited, it looked as if her human had harboured a bite all the same. “I’m fine, Paran,” she told him. “I may have tripped up my timing, all right, but I’m fine. Yesterday, too – I was fine yesterday, and I’m fine today. More importantly, you are fine. Still… alive, as you said. So, fine by any other name. Why should we need a… a rule, now?”

Paran made a tired sound. “… You’re clawing, Yamame.”

“What?”

“My back – you’re clawing it.”

Yamame forced her fingers to splay. “… I wasn’t.”

“And,” Paran went on, “when I touched you – you were as taut as a bowstring.”

“I didn’t bite!” Yamame insisted. “It can’t be helped; it’s… instincts. I was fine, yesterday – after a while. Weren’t you the one who said, ‘we can never fully escape our natures?’ Well, I can’t – but I am trying. I want to keep trying, and I want to touch you. So there. I don’t want to quit; I just…”

“Need to get used to it?” asked her human.

“… Need to get used to it,” gave up the earth spider. “Yes. Need to… get used to it.” Stepped right on the sticky one, Yamame, she criticised herself inside. “Very good,” she sighed at her human. “Very good, Paran. Let’s get used to it. What rule did you say that was, again?”

“Something simple?”

“Simple is very good.”

Paran nodded – simply. “Then,” he said, “why don’t we try for… in the morning?”

“Morning sounds good,” agreed Yamame.

“And in the evening?”

“That’s good as well. So,” she summed up. “Morning and evening, then.”

“Yes,” he confirmed, “every morning, and every evening.”

“All right – every morning and every evening.”

“Until…” her human began.

“‘Until?’”

“… Until,” he said, looking straight into her spider eyes, “we can do it – without you going into paroxysms… Yamame.”

And it was then that the snub caught.

And the tension, which Yamame Kurodani had endured since joining her human on her sofa, snapped not unlike a thread – as tensions and threads snap both, when too fat a fly (or any such noisy interruption) chooses to land. Yamame Kurodani, mother of plagues, the yearly malady, felt her towering pride sway just a little bit, even as she met the one attempting to tip it with a forehead rivalling the most crinkled of shirts.

“Really?! Really!” A note higher, and she would have been squeaking. “Honestly? Seriously – for real?! Have you just done this to me? No, wait. Wait, wait, wait. Hold on. Was that why… That’s why you were upset in the morning – because I didn’t realise you wanted to lose our bet? So then you could… So that I’d have to let you…”

Paran was smiling. “That’s about it, yes.”

“Are you even real?! That’s stupid! You’re stupid!”


“I told you, Yamame,” said the human – and it was as though victory itself was speaking. “I told you. That I’d be ‘very annoying’ starting today. Thrice, now. Well,” he breathed. “Here I am. Good evening.”


And then, clearly in an advance of his promise, he grabbed her shoulders, and kissed her.


>> No. 15278
[X] Love the spider.
-[X] Cherish the spider.
>> No. 15279
File 148993480574.jpg - (317.33KB, 2048x2048, 58780327_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
15279


It had not been evening.

Not close; an entire dinner (and washing-up after, and a deal of ineffectual flailing before) had been squeezed into the timetable, and still hours remained in the day. Now, however, evening was in full and undeniable swing (or the swing of the clock’s arms anyway), and Yamame Kurodani found its minutes filtering pleasantly through her mind’s internal web.

Not altogether; but, when her sole complaint was her human’s breath disturbing her still-undone hair every few seconds, Yamame Kurodani was willing toward concessions.

It was the most amazing thing.

No, not Yamame’s hairs not standing on the ends at being so tickled; nor even her permittance of this tickling made such an appraisal justified. What did, was the human’s decision to do so. A braver soul may venture: his own permittance. His trust.

And permit he had – and more. Yamame had had but to wash up after their meal, and miracles had come together; and she had discovered her human again on her sofa, seated comfortably, once her agreed part of the chores had been done. The human been the most absorbed, spinning the comb Yamame had left there in the morning between his clumsy human fingers; still when its owner had approached, the little tortoise-shell artefact from Yamame’s personal vaults had been put aside.

And then, working yet another miracle into the day, the human had opened out his arms, and, never speaking a spell, invited Yamame to fill in the vacancy.


Maybe being offered to be so trusted had won over her spider heart; maybe a deeper need of her being was satisfied by wrapping her arms and legs around something which she now, on some level, knew had a value beyond the obvious pragmatic. All which Yamame could do – all which she could think she could do – had been to accept with a grin that, she hoped, had spoken of gratitude louder than simplicity.

Yamame’s human – once more displaying a kind of spatial dexterity which Yamame would not have suspected in his species – had accommodated her very well: he nudged his nose and mouth into the gap between Yamame’s chin and left shoulder, which in turn allowed said chin to rather snugly come to rest against the human’s own shoulder. An effort of symmetry and consideration, which Yamame’s architect mind could at once see and treasure – even if her heart had not already been doing so itself in its cage.

It had not been until a few moments, then a full minute later, that aforesaid concessions about hair had had to be made. Now, an unknowable time of conceding behind her, Yamame Kurodani resolved that – no matter how “amazing” she looked when she had it down – the hair had to be re-leashed, and soon.


But with this first sullen realisation, others came in following; and Yamame Kurodani’s heart clinched once the next in line had fully appeared.

At a great risk, she had to talk with her human about tomorrow.

Angles at which she might hang the issue were but two – yet either had kinks in it which made her choice agonised. The human may very good start for the priestess Hijiri with the project as soon as the morning – or, he may be persuaded to stay with Yamame for just one more day and see to their new compact; but, while her heart was glad declaring the latter as the only proper course, Yamame’s heart was stupid, and had had to be questioned. The Komeiji girl’s investigation, the irritable natures of Yamame’s siblings which said investigation was like to... well, irritate, to boot with Yamame’s own status as an elder of her kin – these told her in no happy words her involvement in the case could not be walled off with a simple, “I didn’t.”


The brutal truth was, Yamame Kurodani wanted nothing more intensely than for her human to stay and be her cushion all day long. But, where blood and blame were being merrily spilt from hand to hand, upholstery of all kinds was liable to stain.


( ) The cushion had to go.
( ) It would make like a cushion and stay.
>> No. 15280
File 148993619987.jpg - (281.45KB, 1068x1200, 61817927_p1.jpg) [iqdb]
15280
Two months late, then two weeks. I don’t know if we’re working up or tumbling even further down.

Hello, Sekimania here. We have not lost our heads yet, but it’s bound to happen soon or late.

First of all, I’d like to apologise for the gap in the updates. I’ve had a rough patch, is about as much as I’m willing to tire you with, and now I’m unemployed again (albeit with a load of money, so eh). You would think a lot of free time would mean a lot of opportunity to write – but the actuality of the situation would surprise you. Well, we’re back for now, and we’re slowly scrubbing the rust off. I apologise for any accidental alliterative atrocities I may have committed above. Those things – they threaten us all.

Hope the long-ish Yamabreak didn’t Yamamake you lose your Yamahope. I’m just gonna Sekisit here and Sekisee what the first vote in two months will Sekishow us. Me, I’m not Banki-ing on anything.
>> No. 15281
(X) Cuddle a little more.

Y'know, I always check this thread everyday, just in case you saged your update or something.
>> No. 15282
(X) It would make like a cushion and stay.
>> No. 15283
(X) The cushion had to go.

I've been waiting for this update! Good to see you're back.
>> No. 15284
(x) The cushion had to go.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that.
>> No. 15289
[x[ It would make like a cushion and stay.
-[x] At least for one more day

Yeah, he has work to do in the surface. But, surely, that can wait one more day, no?

Besides, it is more the spirit of the thing. To rebel against those who wish to make spiderbutt feel bad for maturing enough to folllw love.
>> No. 15291
(x) The cushion had to go.

It's baaaaack.
>> No. 15294
File 149021545199.jpg - (300.65KB, 800x800, 62032437_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
15294
All right. That’s a call for cushions going, since >>15281 couldn’t deign to make a proper vote (I’m saging the next update just for you, you cheeky Banki).
>> No. 15295
File 149023789069.jpg - (167.30KB, 600x600, __chen_chen_and_sekibanki_touhou_drawn_by_bobomast.jpg) [iqdb]
15295
>>15294
Just go ahead and update you... you...

DOUBLE BANKI
>> No. 15297
(X) The cushion had to go.
>> No. 15298
>>15297
Too late lol.
>>15294
You knew what anon voted for, you Headless SonofaBanki!
>> No. 15300
File 149093508248.jpg - (970.74KB, 1200x1459, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_hiru0130__b6eeb4.jpg) [iqdb]
15300
(X) The cushion had to go.

But Yamame Kurodani had been to parties enough; she knew where expensive coverings were best stored: in the next town over. But for the Underworld’s glowing capital no towns were available, however – and this one was no place for Yamame’s cushions. The Human Village, then – farther, and numinous though it was to Yamame – would best store her favourite. Yes, the Human Village had to do.

All of this was, of course, giddiness speaking; the human would store himself soon or late, even if Yamame said nothing and did less. All the same it allowed the Underworld’s architect purpose: enough purpose to screw up her courage, and gently dismantle the perfect arrangement she had been given inside her human’s arms.

“Paran?” The spider’s voice, surprising herself, turned out as little beyond a spider’s whisper. “We need to… talk. Yes. About something. Are you awake?”

The human’s responding sigh swept along the skin of her neck – and through her hair. Yamame’s shoulders flexed all on their own – then came again to a quiet rest, even as her human retracted his breath for a proper reply.

“… Can it wait?” he asked. “I’m in an amazing place right now.”

An unwitting giggle pushed out of Yamame’s chest. “My neck is an amazing place?”

“Mm.”

Another giggle followed at that. “That makes the second time, you know?”

Paran’s head moved as though to give a questioning tilt. “… Of what?”

“You,” said Yamame. “Complimenting me. Isn’t it? This morning,” she reminded, “you told me I looked… amazing, right? With my hair let down. Now, my neck as well. That makes two, right? Or was that one just an extension?”

Her human made a rumbling sound. “But I’ve—” Then, his voice broke off. “… I’ll try to do it more often from now on,” he gave at length. “Gods know you’ve merited a compliment or two – or, well, more. Will have to put in more effort, I guess.”

But Yamame was clever enough to know there was more to this clumsy attempt at humour than a clumsy attempt at humour. “All right,” she said. “What is it I’m misunderstanding this time?”

Paran brushed the question off. “Nothing,” he said. “Nothing I can’t work out.”

“And you are sure of this?”

“Yes,” Paran said, firmly. “Sure.”

“All right, then,” Yamame allowed. “Work it out, Paran.”

“Very good,” said her human. “… Yamame?”

“Yes?”

“… You look amazing with your hair down.”

“We knew that already, didn’t we?” chuckled Yamame. “Though it’s a little inconvenient.”

“Your neck feels amazing as well.”

“That, there – that is a little more difficult to believe,” Yamame said. “Also something we had found out already. Am I really so short on good sides? Only my hair and my neck? That’s a little poor, isn’t it? My sewing’s pretty good, too – you know?”

“… Yamame?”

“Yes, Paran?”

The human beneath her swelled up with a breath that all but lifted Yamame a full hand-span. “I,” began her human, “I have wanted… have always wanted… to hold you – like this.”

Yamame Kurodani’s heart stopped.

When it shuddered into life again, it could have been hours later – or minutes, or less than minutes, or the clock beyond her bedroom’s door was a traitorous clock, and had modified its ticking to belie the ticking of Yamame’s own spider heart. Whichever of these was to the right, Yamame Kurodani was miserably all left – left dumbstruck and picking at the threads of her wits; most embarrassingly, Yamame Kurodani was left hoping, for the first time, that her human’s dull human senses would not detect just how far left she was.

Something else was telling either way. Yamame, muttering, told her arms to relax.

“… That’s not a compliment,” she accused, once her voice had returned from its trip to the left field. “Thank you, really – but it wasn’t, you know? And there was that word, again – ‘always?’ That’s not what I remember. At all.”

“… Going to have to work out harder,” Paran issued his surrender – a strained surrender, but one all the same.

There was a pause that issued, too; and though only one of these had been meant for her merit (at least so far as guessing stitched), still Yamame seized on both. As good she did; for then, sighing, her human cracked the pause and resumed negotiations of his promise.

“Very good,” he said. “Very good, Yamame… but I don’t mind this anyway.”

“Mind what, exactly?”

Paran shifted – as though the simple motion conveyed exactly everything.

“… This,” he explained finally. “I don’t mind this.”

Or, non-explained. Yamame smiled despite herself.

“This, being holding me?” she asked. “That is also hard to swallow, you know? Considering.”

“I did offer,” her human pointed out. “I offered, and I had offered, in the morning… obliquely.”

“That you did,” Yamame agreed. “… Obliquely.”

Minute by minute, it seemed more as if she had left her genius mind back at her drawing table. The cause did not escape her. More pertinently, the cause could not escape her, so long as Yamame Kurodani kept her arms closed. The thought was comforting (somehow); and with reassured control (of the cause, if not her own feelings), the most skilled of Underworld’s spinstresses spun on toward the understanding which she now (late as centuries) realised both she and her human had been awkwardly spinning around one another throughout the last minutes.

You’re stupid, she thought at her human; but what she said was, “Want to keep doing this as well, then?”

No, you’re stupid, Paran thought back (or Yamame was certain he had); but he returned, “I want to, as well.”

And like that, it was done.

Another catch, Yamame marvelled inside. Another compact between earth spider and human. Had trust been a game, they would have been breaking records.

But trust was no game; and Yamame, turned out, was no breaker of records, but of promises. Almost a breaker of embraces in addition; but by now this peculiar game was familiar to Paran, and the human – once Yamame had but begun to push – loosed what already soft hold he had on the agitating earth spider.

Agitating, and looking the part likewise – which Yamame confirmed positively as soon as she ran a smoothing hand down her golden hair. Paran, for his human’s part, gave the earth spider fussing on his lap a look of his own. The look was concerned. At the same time, the look was amused; it was a wonder of superposition which – had Yamame not been agitated and looking it – she would have quizzed on realms of possibility.

“All right, no!” the spinstress growled, gathering up tails of her hair. “That’s enough. No more! I’m tying it back up. Now! I don’t care if I’m amazing anymore!”

Paran was visibly jousting with a smile. “What’s that?”

Yamame scrunched up her brows. “Hair!” she hissed. “Hair! Which you’ve been blowing up for the last… oh, however long! I’m a spider! Can you imagine how aggravating that gets? When you breathe and breathe into my hair like that?”

“Not really.”

“Very!” Yamame snapped. “Very, very aggravating! Should we let yours grow out, so I can blow in it for hours and hours? See how long before you tear?”

“We weren’t that—” Paran began to protest. Then, Paran’s first idea was shoved out of whichever vent in his head produced no voice; instead, a second idea took over behind his eyes. “Actually,” said this idea (or Paran did for it). “Might be able to do something about that.”

“Oh?” Yamame’s curiosity took the fore for a moment. “What’s that?”

“Something for your hair,” her human explained. “When I was going up last time, I said I would find you something nice. Yes? I did. Turned out, it was something for your hair. Still is, more like than not – somewhere in my bags. We could go get it. That is, if you’ll want to get off of me for a bit.”

Yamame didn’t. “Now you remember this?” she said, her previous frown triumphantly returned. “After all this time? Took you a pretty while.”

“Yes, pretty,” her human murmured under his nose. Then, he made a shrug. “Someone distracted me, Yamame.”

“Who? I’ll bite them.”

Had accusation ever had a name, it was “Paran.”

“… You,” said Paran, with double the force of his name. “You did, Yamame – for a pretty while.

“… Oh,” said Yamame, and it seemed something else was taking on her name as well. A blush – of the stripe which didn’t fear visiting itself even upon the deadliest of earth spiders. “Um… Oh.”


May bite that one, for good measure, she decided. But, as she grudgingly climbed down from Paran’s lap – the human’s, not the accusation’s – the only thing squeezed between her teeth was her own lip.

Someone else was being distracted.


>> No. 15301
Mmhh good. This is good progress.
>> No. 15302
File 149100767376.jpg - (125.73KB, 480x800, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_ootsuki_wataru__.jpg) [iqdb]
15302


The room had smelled like him.

It was a perplexing thought: perplexing, odd, and not a little late, and one Yamame Kurodani had taken as far as her bed in the end. The room where Paran had now been staying and sleeping for months had taken on his smell; logically, nothing about this had registered in Yamame’s mind as wrong. That it had registered had been less logical. Maybe the hours spent in immediacy to her human had made the similarity more striking; maybe Yamame’s mind had never threaded it with any importance because it had not been important before. The perplexing thought remained: that the heart of Yamame’s home had been co-opted, and with her full approval.

Once, this room had been everything which Yamame could call home.

At one time, one too long to count – when the Underworld had been younger, and Yamame Kurodani had been younger still – a foursquare space, one such as this, hewed from aromatic mountain pines and tiled over with mats-of-straw shamefully abducted from nearby human dwellings, had been all inside which Yamame Kurodani may sleep away her nights. A spider may extend its net wherever in the crown of a tree and live; since Yamame’s run-in with those frangible creatures known as “humans,” however, her spider’s mind had nursed an exuberant craving for walls and floorings, ceilings and doors, and pine-wood panels filled out with straw-mats. Yamame Kurodani had indulged those new needs, and found them closer and closer her heart as work on her cottage nearby the Underworld’s outlets drew to completion.

It had been in the same cottage which the Oni had found her, decades afterwards. The straw-mats had softened in the meanwhile, and the wood walls had grown mouldy and old; still, with her spider’s craft, wiles, and not a trivial amount of cheating magic, Yamame had kept her first home in a habitable state. Nowhere yet as spacious as her current home was (certainly nowhere so tidy, either), Yamame had nonetheless added to her house across the years, spinning whichever material was procurable, and in whatever way her whimsy swung; her spider’s eye and mind seemed to weave through the geometric of raising walls and ceilings as easily as it threaded the octagons of a web. Almost, and Yamame would have been satisfied with this selfish creation alone.

Then, the war had happened. At once at her doorstep, but miles below the layers of black basalt stone as well as her attention; at its close, it was still the disease-weaving spider to whom the Oni had turned in their desperation, to carve them a new home from the destruction their rage had left in its wake.

Yamame Kurodani had given them all she had, and grew from it.

And yet, at the tail of the new Capital’s first decennary, it was its very architect whom the glowing jewel of the Underworld had left with the greatest hunger. Appetite whetted to soreness, wits eaten away by the Oni’s interminable celebration of existence, Yamame Kurodani – now styled builder of the Underworld - had gathered up her tools, hitched up her skirts, and – with a tow-cart of treasure accorded to her by the grateful underfolk squeaking behind her the entire way – journeyed back to her little cottage in Old Hell’s upper reaches.

Across the next years, Yamame Kurodani would continue taking assignments in the Capital under the age-faded eye of the Oni Nikuyama; in return, more treasure, items and material were awarded to the earth spider, dredged up from the once-extravagant ruins of Yamas’ homes which yet remained. When enough of those had been gathered, when crates of plaster and stacks of wood and bricks had been stacked high enough under the vaulted walls of the cave which housed Yamame’s cottage – it was then that the great architect had allowed her desires to cast back upon herself.

And so, drawing on the indignation which she would never have confessed had festered on the underside of her heart, as well as the memories of first raising a home in the human-fashion, Yamame Kurodani, quite single-handedly, had lain the foundations of her new home, which stood even now nearby the Underworld’s outlets. Only this room had been spared the need of repurposing and recycling. Only this one room – not even in its entirety – with its mouldy straw-mat floors and panelled walls, had been worked into the heart of the otherwise brick, mortar and plaster shell of her new home.

Yamame Kurodani was a nostalgic creature like that at times.

This was why, helped no further by the delay with which it had come, the thought that the old heart of her home had been taken over by someone else was perplexing to say the least. An embarrassing parallel had not been lost on Yamame as she had leaned on the door-frame, and watched her human search his bags for his over-late offering.

Paran’s gift had turned out “something for her hair” indeed: a bright golden ribbon – a yard or so in length, four fingers across – and of a fashion which had made Yamame squeal in delight as she rushed forward to examine it. The thrice-folded core of the ribbon had been cut from the same fabric the lining of the wheat-gold dress – the one layered over with fish-scale, that Ashi had named the price for her advice – had been; from end to end, pearl-white lace of a web-like design had been painstakingly sewn on, folded-over, and sewn on again. The design had at once appealed to something inside Yamame’s aesthetic sense, and awoke an ember of jealousy in the pit of her stomach she would have thought impossible to wake at this point.

Paran had laughed when she had carefully felt the stitching with her lips. Yamame had stuck out her tongue at him in reply.

That a human’s creations could still make her jealous had honestly been a little scary; still, as she’d sat cross-legged on the floor and mothered her disordered hair, scarier things yet came back to haunt her.

Yamame had still to tell her human to leave with the project soon.

So she had. Told him, as simply and painlessly as she could.

Paran’s eyes had narrowed; and there, bubbling out from invisible holes and drying into a hard carapace over all, was the staid human Paran whom Yamame Kurodani had known and depended on for well long months before… well, before she had come to know the side of Paran with welcoming arms and likeable eyes as well as dependability.

“You do not want me listening in,” this Paran had said. No complaint had marked his voice; only there was a silent request for confirmation of a suspicion made good on already. “You do not want me listening in on further talk of killings. Is that it?”

Yes, Yamame had thought. “… A little bit of that, a little bit of no,” she had said out loud. “I want to get to work. That is one thing. My sisters, too; the sooner we can put their hands to work, rather than being riled by accusations – which I guarantee you aren’t true anyway – the better for me… and them. Them, principally. Komeiji’s brat knows I didn’t… do anything. That entire family is snakes, but they’re officious snakes when it suits them; they’ll keep pestering me if my sisters call on me and my age for support, even if—”

“—If Yamame Kurodani herself has done no wrong,” Paran had finished. “Very good. I will go. Hijiri wished to display your work as well; this should smooth over offences, if they persist.”

“Yes. That’s what I’m weighing on. More or less. That is why…”

“I will go,” Paran had said, again, with a note of finality. “Will you show me the project, Yamame?”

“Yes. Of course.”

“Now?”

“Now is fine, isn’t it?”

A brow had risen on Paran’s face. “No bargaining?”

Yamame had thought it over. “… One condition,” she had decided. “OK, Paran? Only one, I promise. Is that fine?”

“What is it?”

Yamame’s smile had been winning as she’d replied.

“No distractions, OK?”

None had been made, either. Paran had shown nothing else than complete dedication to Yamame’s explanations as she described the project to him in vocabulary the priestess Hijiri as well was like to understand. Nor had he displayed anything else but unerring accuracy next, when Yamame had quizzed him on which parts of the project she had said were grounds for arbitration, and which were entirely undiscussable; nor next, when he had theorised what doubts he thought their employer may raise in addition.


Afterwards, however, a period of distraction was very gracefully approved.


>> No. 15303
File 149101250847.png - (123.25KB, 425x396, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_kide_koushin__03.png) [iqdb]
15303


So then, did her bedroom conversely smell like her?

In more meanings and in more ways than one, that was the first thought Yamame Kurodani awoke to the following morning. It had to, to some degree; though experience had taught Yamame that one’s own smell was not easily discernible until well into extremity. The thought steamed on inside her head even as she rose to a sit on the edge of her bed; it steamed on as she extended that to a wobbly stand.

By the time she reached the her bedroom’s door, it was little more than a silly soup boiling over. It was not the extent of silliness for that day, but Yamame Kurodani determined she had best emulate her human and not drink it until the full dish was done.

Yamame could not know it, but two more ingredients would be thrown into the pot before the day was out.

The first was as apparent as Yamame’s first shaky step into what was an already busy kitchen despite the hour.

Upon the kitchen table, a black stain on the tapestry of Yamame’s taste for bright decoration, legs dangling over the precipice, two carmine eyes sunken into the back of the human toasting slices of bread on the stove, was Hachiashi.

Yamame’s jet-haired sister was the first to register the arrival of the house’s mistress. The other earth spider’s gaze slid off of Paran’s back, and walked up and down the arrived Yamame.

“Nice. Mhm. Nice.” Ashi put forward the cryptic flattery that was her trademark never cracking a smile. Then she did crack a smile as she took in the blanket thrown haphazardly over Yamame’s otherwise naked shoulders. “Very, very nice. Good day, Yams. How are we this morning? Slept well? Stayed a touch late last night? Yams, but your legs are as long as the floor! I would kill for those legs. Wouldn’t you?”

The last question had been directed sideways from the spider sisters. No answer came, but for Yamame’s cavernous yawning.

“Hello, Ashi,” the elder of the spinstresses murmured, kneading at her eyes. “Straight from the morning, mm?”

Ashi gave a shrug. “Not my thought, Yams. Snakes, as you’re fond of saying.”

“Mm. Snakes,” Yamame repeated, numbly. “… Paran? Are you leaving soon? That’s your bag, isn’t it?”

It was, stood by one of the chairs at the table; but Yamame’s favourite human – who could have been the first addition to Yamame’s kitchen at its inception and remained there ever since for all he looked like a piece of animate furniture – only rumbled his acknowledgement of his name being brought to bear.

“… Will leave a few for you,” he murmured, it seemed to nobody who merited being looked at as much as being murmured at. Then, rust all but flaking off his joints, he turned around to physically face the earth spiders. “… Yamame,” he named the more dishevelled one. “… Good morning.”

“Mhm,” Yamame replied. “Good morning, Paran.”


The human made as though to do something; but something else caught in the corner of his eyes, and made them flick toward something other yet on the nearby table – or under it, or beyond it entirely. The eyes were soon on Yamame again, and the Underworld’s architect was wise enough to realise the thing which had the eyes so bothered was a question.

The trouble was, not even she was sure what kind.


( ) Nod.
( ) Shake.
>> No. 15304
(X) Nod.
>> No. 15305
[x] Nod

Sad times. Those spiders may be her friends, but they're a nuisance right now-with Yamame's complete lack of resistance to teasing and all.
>> No. 15306
File 14910748244.png - (38.39KB, 194x190, 61236e1eadShirou0.png) [iqdb]
15306
(x) Shake.
I understand COMPLETELY.
>> No. 15307
We're supposed to give an answer to an unknown question with this few hints?

I don't get it.
I suppose we'll assume Paran knows what he's doing.
[X] Nod.
>> No. 15311
Is he asking whether he should depart now or something?
>> No. 15313
File 149128706159.jpg - (185.23KB, 562x632, smuggybanki.jpg) [iqdb]
15313
Votes like these corroborate I’m writing the right thing in my head.
>> No. 15314
File 149144341257.jpg - (199.78KB, 483x630, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_hachi105__5b5f36.jpg) [iqdb]
15314
(X) Nod.

Nor had she to know. Trust. Trust had ever been the mortar of relations; so as good it chanced Yamame Kurodani had been stacking trust as of late.

All the stranger then, that – once the Underworld’s builder had given her sleepiest nod in weeks – her favourite human looked rather more startled than trusted. Neither had Yamame Kurodani, earth spider though she was, meant for the nod to be startling; but, it seemed as ephemeral as all other expressions of her human, soon that, as well, gave its place to something else. A decision? As like as anything; though his hands did twitch once in indecision as Yamame’s human extended them out. Out – towards the exact spider who had given the nod.

Oh, right, Yamame had just the time to think before her shoulders were gently pushed down on on either side; and then, There was something like that, wasn’t there?, when her human leaned down to level his eyes with hers.

There was little anything – thoughts, time, or ideas on what to do with it – in Yamame’s world between that moment and the moment in which her favourite human was once again, for the second day in a row, pressing his lips against her in open sight of a guest. Worse yet, this kiss around, Paran had clumsily missed both of her cheeks. Where he had landed instead, had been square between them.

Yamame kept perfectly still. There was a muted reply from her instincts, yes there was – but the human was doing nothing of note but kissing her. There was no need to respond. It was normal. It would pass. The instincts frayed away.

All the same there must have been a reply from Yamame herself; for then, the spinstress felt the human pulling himself free. Not saw – her eyes had shut close somewhere in those fleeing moments before; but when she opened them, Paran was as red as a brick, and covering his face in shame an arm’s stretch away.

Yamame wasn’t awake enough to secure anything above a frown. Her mouth ruffled into a pout. “… Why are you getting embarrassed?”

Paran looked away. “I had not…” Then, groaning, he let the hand drop loose by his side. “I hadn’t thought it through,” he gave up. “It is embarrassing – when it is not just us.”

I’m not embarrassed,” Ashi put in edgeways from the table.

Yamame Kurodani, mother of plagues, shot her sister a venomous look. Ashi remained defiantly alive, but shut up. “… Are you leaving soon or are you not?” Yamame demanded again of her human. “Mind, I’m not throwing you out – I’m really, really not – but I did ask you a question. I’m not going to bite you or anything; I just want to know. The least you could do for me right now is spare me the guessing.”

“And more embarrassments,” Ashi chipped in.

“Shut up, Ashi.”

The younger spinstress sketched a shrug. “Yes, ma’am, Yams.”

The human Paran, who had made the best of the sisters’ verbal recreation to overcome the self-inflicted change of colour, righted his back. “Yes,” he said, all-Paran-like again. “I am leaving soon. I have eaten already; I’m only making these to take with. Well, and for you,” he added. “These are our last eggs.”

“Mm? Oh. Thought I’d smelt something good running out,” said Yamame, smiling at her own joke. “… Are they really?”

“More soon, if you do good.”

“If you do good,” Yamame corrected. “That Hijiri has to be someone, if she is building a bath-house with staying rooms. Not upstart priestry, I mean. More than likely she’s got connections she could shake down for eggs. Not that I’d know anything about that. Not half as good as you. That’s why you’re going to be shaking her down, right?”

“The priestess Hijiri holds some sway with the farmers, yes,” said Paran, very seriously. “I will ask about eggs.”

“Mhm. Very good.” Yamame made another yawn. Then, she noticed something else. “… Um. Paran?”

“Yes?”

“That toast is burning, you know?”

“Ack—”

As she watched her human hip around to pluck the egg-bathed toast from the jaws of calcification, Yamame Kurodani, mother of plagues, allowed her smile to wilt.

The human was leaving – again.

The news had not been ill-delivered – nor had it been news at all; but for all Yamame Kurodani counted down the hours until her next job, and for all she wished her human out of earshot once talk of his “spider-poisoned” kinsman was engaged, all the same the sense that circumstance had cheated her out of something was firmly stuck in a far corner of her mind’s web. Maybe not circumstance, Yamame thought, watching her human fumble over the cooking equipment; maybe Yamame herself had been the cheater, to have brought human things – trust, compassion, Paran – into this game of…

… This game of what? Youkai-hood? But could youkai-hood be cheated?

Yamame Kurodani, youkai since ages (or at least since Yamame remembered), breathed out her troubles in a hot sigh. This was pique speaking, nothing more. It was pique that she was being delayed. It was pique that she, Yamame Kurodani, would be required to wait until she may again bully her human into showing her more and more trust; it was pique that she, the yearly malady, was being overruled by something other than her own spider’s will.

It was pique that she was unlike to get her evening kiss as well as the morning one today.

Yamame shook her mussed-up head. “… Why, anyway?” she murmured, if for nothing else than to give her irritation an external vector to eat at. “Why are you always up so early? Why do you only sleep in when we are going out together?”

Atop the table, Ashi volunteered her own theory. “Simplicity, Yams,” she said, smiling a knowing smile. “Why, he knows you are going to come wake him up. So he waits.”

Sooner than Yamame could frame what she made of this answer, the human Paran himself wrenched away from the stove, stomped the few steps he had to table, and slammed a plate heavy under egg-infused toast down beside Yamame’s clever-mouthed sister. The human had not perceived it – could not have, with his poor human (if likeable) eyes – but to Yamame’s own spider eyes (and illimited amusement), Ashi had actually jumped.

Then, in the same cloying tone Yamame had only ever heard on those occasions she had been really, really stupid, Paran addressed the younger earth spider – younger may be, but an earth spider still – directly and without reserve.

“Hachiashi,” he told her, saccharine dripping. “… Shut up. OK?”


And then, miracle of miracles, gods-sent under the earth, Yamame’s sister gave an almost meek nod.

“Ye—Yes,” she said. “… Yes, sir, Paran.”


>> No. 15315
Praise be upon Paran, the Tamer of Moe Spidergirls.
>> No. 15317
>pluck the egg-bathed toast from the jaws of calcification
Didja mean carbonization, or did the poor piece of bread contract a deadly case of osteosarcoma?
>> No. 15318
File 149155625416.jpg - (55.34KB, 216x322, bankiblush.jpg) [iqdb]
15318
>>15317
It is Yamame’s home!

I’ll blame this one on ignorance. And alcohol. Mostly ignorance. I’m just a simple Sekimaniac! I never should have begun writing a story about a disease-controlling spider…
>> No. 15319
>>15317
Unable to toast even though he wishes for it, Bread eventually stops thinking.
>> No. 15328
File 149198492323.jpg - (88.52KB, 216x221, 14776101_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
15328


“So, did you bite him?”

The question discharged from Ashi’s toast-and-egg-occupied mouth almost at once when Yamame had shuffled herself back to her kitchen, after seeing off her human at the house’s front door. It did not put her in a mind of clawing. Not least because Yamame Kurodani was in a mind of clawing already – whether at her face, hair, or whichever other irritant happened nearby her nails. Had been in it – ever since said door had closed behind her.

Though she was not about to claw in the earnest just yet; but, neither was she about to allow the criticism to fly free. Yamame drew up a chair. An inch short of folding down like a sheet of wet fabric, the eldest of Underworld’s spinstresses seated herself opposite of her sister. At the same time, she pulled in closer the toast-laden plate of which Hachiashi, in her elder’s absence, had used liberally and with dispatch.

“Why would I do that, now?” Yamame asked.

Ashi, giggling at the older spider’s naivete, pulled the plate right back. “Why, Yams,” she explained, snatching up another still-warm piece, “I didn’t hear a peep of struggle, and I didn’t sense anyone besides your genius self. That more or less leaves you and your overkeen teeth. And mind, sister mine – you are wearing a face like someone you totally adored has just expired in a spectacular way.”

Am I? thought Yamame, at the same time touching a finger to her lips. The lips were curving down at the ends. “… He hasn’t,” she insisted, manually kneading out the kink. “He won’t, either. This tunnel comes out straight to the surface, and he’s protected once up there. We’ve done this before – you know?”

“Spent half an hour kissing good-bye?” Ashi blinked, mock-disbelievingly. “No way, Yams; you’d have bitten off your tongue. Or his. Gods above know which first.”

“What’s my tongue have to do with anything?”

“See? Now I know you’re lying.”

Yamame didn’t counter anymore; only she bit into her own piece of toast and made a surly face. I wasn’t, she thought, in like a surly corner of her mind, And we didn’t. Not for half an hour.

Nor had they. Not at all. Only once had Yamame Kurodani given over a thought to matters which pertained otherwise than to work. Only after she had once more quizzed her human on the project’s musts-and-not-musts; only after she had given to him the details that had only stitched together in her sleep. Only afterwards had Yamame Kurodani permitted her selfishness to squeeze in a word of its own.

“… Hey.”

“Mm?” Paran had quit the impatient checking of his pockets crucial evidently before any length of travel. “What is it?”

“If,” Yamame had begun, “If you aren’t able… If it doesn’t seem like you’re able to come back by the evening—”

“As like won’t,” the human had nimbly cut her off. “Why?”

… Then don’t go looking for another spider to kiss, Yamame had finished inside her head. “… Nothing much,” her mouth had offered up instead. “So, when? Tomorrow? After? I’ll try to have Ashi out by then. I promise.”

Her human had hung his shoulders, as though the joke had landed wrong. “… Can’t say. Hijiri besides, I may need to get in touch with a few sources. All of it hinges on how well-wised up our priestess is on what’s to be done. Materials may be easier to come by if we’ve Hijiri’s name at the bottom of the invoice, too. Gods watching, I know of a woodcarver recently broke his leg, who—”

“How long, Paran?”

Her human had sighed a long-suffering sigh, and the last pretences to diligence with it. “… Three days,” he had told the staring Yamame. “Give me three days. Gods watching, Hijiri will have understood by then, and that woodcarver won’t have thrown in with the celebrations with a leg in a cast.”

“Celebrations?” Yamame had cocked her head. “What kind of celebrations do woodcarvers have?”

“Wooden, no doubt.” Paran had smiled. “I didn’t mention? There’s a holy-day lurking somewhere about this week. Couldn’t tell you which day, but most people in town better informed than I. No worries; I won’t be joining in. My employer’s gods don’t do holy-days.”

“But I have no gods,” Yamame had protested.

“Thus, no holy-days.”

What about yours? Yamame had wondered inside, Would yours give you a holy-day if you asked? But these questions never found a voice, nor an answer – only a quiet “Take care, OK?” when the human – named after his god – had once again opened up his arms for the god-lacking earth spider. Yamame had completed the last in a line of little blasphemies by pulling him down instead.

Then – a little more breathless, but no looser set in his duties than he had been the previous minute – the human had taken his blindfold, and fled.

“Are you done basking?”

Ashi’s arch question rethreaded Yamame to the toast-flavoured present. The younger spinstress, at once regaled by and annoyed with her elder sister’s distraction, was staring. Had been, if said annoyance was telling.

“… I wasn’t,” Yamame mumbled in her defence. “Only I’ve…”

“Oho?” Hachiashi’s carmine eyes needled on. “Only you’ve what?

“Only,” said Yamame, “I was thinking. I’ve been nothing but stupid lately, you know?”

The younger earth spider made a sound lodged somewhere between a growl and a sigh. “Not stupid, Yams,” she insisted. “Single-threaded. There is a difference. When you tie yourself up for months for fear of changing that thread – that is when you are stupid. I know stupid, Yams – oh, I’ve known it – and you are not it, you bleeding genius, you. So don’t work at it, please. I don’t want a stupid sister.”

Yamame shaped a wan smile. “… Thanks.”

Hachiashi’s reply was cunning. “There. See? That. That is the second I’ve seen you smile today – and you are usually less reserved about blow-drying your fangs. The first, incidentally, was just then. Maybe you should bask some more, Yams – and let my fangs take care of the food.”

“Must I be mocked straight from the morning, Ashi?” Yamame moaned. “I had an anxious night.”

“Mocked?” Ashi faked a gasp. “Who-ever is mocking you, Yams? All I’m doing is teasing. I’ll have you know it is perfectly fine to bask. Whatever makes your pretty mug go happy, makes it go happy. There’s no shame in it; and if I really had to say something for myself, it would be that I’m not at all the one who started.”

“Started? Started what?”

“Teasing, Yams; pay attention.” Ashi tore off a chunk of her food before continuing, “Weren’t you, back there? I’m not blind; I saw you nodding. Showing off your accomplishments in taming humans is fine, but some of us may react poorly to brazen displays of intimacy. I, for one, am a-seethe with envy. A-seethe, Yams.”

Yamame knitted her brows. “Quit, Ashi. That’s not funny.”

“Why would it be?” Ashi replied, accurately rather calm than funny. “Truth seldom is. Amusing, perhaps; rarely funny. This is what you’ve been routinely forgetting about us, dear sister. We don’t care. I don’t know what self-effacing, backward, pity-ridden ideas the Oni have beaten into your pretty head. I don’t care. I’m an earth spider. I do what I do because it is what I am. There is nothing else more important than that. If I had a human I wanted nothing but to kiss all over, I would have spent way more than half an hour doing it. If I had such a skill for drawing pictures of buildings it was sought after even by those who otherwise claim to hate me, I would have exercised it. And if – by chance – I had an older sister who was so far, far above my planes of achievement I’d need another incarnation’s worth of patience and skill to match her and she still kept rising, well…” Ashi’s mouth warped into a smirk. “I’d tease that sister, Yams. Gods above, I’d tease that sister to pieces.

“… Ashi,” Yamame choked out, “Are you… Are you angry with me?”

“Angry?” Ashi laughed. “I’m not angry, you bleeding blond star of the Underworld. I’m envious. There’s a difference.”

The blond star felt herself attiring an un-starry pink. “… I’m sorry?”

“We’re family, Yams. I love you. I don’t want you to be sorry. I want me to be better.

Almost, and Yamame Kurodani, the bleeding blond star of the Underworld, would have apologised again.

Almost, and the mother of plagues would have put forward yet another apology – another apology, and perhaps another word of encouragement to her sister who – unknowably to Yamame’s single-threaded mind – had apparently been nursing an illness to match Yamame’s deadliest contagions. Then, however, the younger Hachiashi once more proved to be the nimbler between the two spiders; and, as she did the remaining piece of toast which she had thrown up into the air and caught in her mouth on the fall, Yamame’s little sister swallowed down the grudge as well.

“Truth be told, Yams,” she spoke up, instantly picking up another slice, “I am relieved first of all. Mind, we are family, and I do love you to death; but you are skittisher than the skittishest humans I’ve had the privilege to watch skitter, and I was somewhat, just a touch, worried.”

“Worried?” Yamame repeated. “Worried about what?”

“About whom, Yams. Mostly, I was worried that you might have done it.”

The elder spider’s brain threatened to begin shutting down. “… Might have done what?

A moment yet Hachiashi didn’t answer. Then she blew open, and out came a nasty snicker. “Would you believe Komeiji’s brat did the same thing to us? That girl, Yams; she is worse than her mother had ever been – and I’ve never even known her mother that good! Could you imagine she popped up banging on our door – almost banged a hole right through! – had us hunkered down in a circle on the carpet, glared us all over with those little grey eyes of hers, and in the end just went, ‘Well, did you?’ – like it was the most obvious thing we would? Yams, I thought I’d croak. Took us the best of the next quarter to wring out what she’d meant – though not before she’d already had a read of most of us. Maybe it was meant to startle us into blundering something. I can’t pretend to fathom what that girl’s mental processes involve. Snakes, right? Mind-leeching snakes.”

“Well,” Yamame dared a tiny smile, “… did you, though?”

Ashi sniggered. “Very good, Yams – but no. The girls all said no. No kill, no sight. Nothing.”

“What did the Komeiji say?”

“The Komeiji brat, imagine,” Ashi huffed, “said she’d read nothing to the contrary. Whoever did do it, well, evidently it wasn’t one of ours. Maybe we don’t all while away our mornings kissing up with humans, Yams – but we’re all very well aware of the rules. None of us want trouble from on up. We’ve lived there. I’ve lived there. ‘Gods above’ are handy to invoke, but they are nowhere as pleasant to summon in actual.”

“I’ll believe,” agreed Yamame. “I’ve had… run-ins. With priestry more than gods, but…”

“That’s one thing,” Ashi nodded. “Another is… We would never have hurt you, Yams.”

“Me? I wasn’t hurt.”

“No, you weren’t; but there is something close to you – someone close – that might have been, if it had been us after all.”

“… Oh.” Yamame bit her lip. There is one, isn’t there? “Um, right. Guess there is.”

“There is, Yams. I saw him myself, not too long ago. That’s why I marched myself up here as soon as morning today,” Ashi went on. “I was afraid— Well, no, not afraid. I was… tactically concerned things might have gone over to the sour side. I’d said some careless things to you; I’d said some pushy things to him, and… Yams, don’t take me wrong; you’re a genius – but you’re a skittish genius, and that’s your own disease. Mind, I hadn’t assumed you’d put a proven informant out of misery over… well, the two of you alone know over what it could have been – but it made me think all the same. About human things. About skittish things. Some tactical concern was warranted. Some.”

“… Mm.” Yamame had no recourse but to fall in again. Nothing’s gone sour, though, she thought. Nothing’s gone sour. Some things – even the opposite, if that’s the opposite of sour. What did that say about tactics? “… That’s all there is, then?” she asked after a moment. “That’s everything why you’ve come – because you were concerned about me and him?”

“Can’t I?” Hachiashi’s big, carmine eyes almost glittered with faked tears. “Can’t I come call on my elder sister from time to time wanting a mercenary reason? Oh, boo, Yams – boo!”

Mercenary? “I didn’t say that, Ashi. I’m asking—”

“Asking if we shall spare you the responsibilities of leadership off of the build site,” Hachiashi chimed in. “No, Yams. We shan’t. The girls look up to you. I look up to you. We know a genius mind needs a wide swath of playing space to spread its wings, so we give you that space. We still love you, though. We especially love you when circumstance presents we may need you to put in a good word for us for when someone takes us for a scapegoat. It’s your age, Yams. It may come with kisses, but it also comes with expectations as well.”

“‘Kisses?’”

“Actually,” Ashi grinned, “now you’ve pointed it out, you’re right. Those are mostly your hair, not your age. It’s a very simple equation. You’ve the prettiest hair of us all, so you attract all the kisses.” The younger spinstress shrugged. “The age still stands, though.”

Yamame grimaced. “You’re mocking me again.”

“Teasing, Yams. Mocking is about flattering lies. Teasing is just embarrassing truths.”

Yamame groaned her exasperation into her toast.

Yet for all the exasperation Yamame Kurodani had had to groan, the reality leaned otherwise: that affairs with which she had been contending had now turned out healthier – or less sour – than her anxiety had had her switch and toss sleepless about in the night. Maybe Yamame, the yearly malady, had overappraised this malady in particular, and had chased her human out prematurely; on the other hand, maybe Yamame, the blond star of the Underworld, had done herself an unwitting service sending him off sooner rather than later – over the delays she knew likely in her heart they would have otherwise stretched until breaking point. Or Yamame would have, on her own. That, among recent uncertainties, was one out of the net.

Then, however, something made a click in the star’s lazily flowing core, and Yamame’s brows crashed together above her nose like a pair of caterpillars who, all of nowhere, hated one another with a venomous passion.

“… Ashi? Say, here…”

The younger earth spider looked up from the plate of toast, which – by now – was near two-thirds cleaned. “Say what?”

Yamame breathed in. “Say. What was that you mentioned you’d said to him, again?”

“To whom? Paran?”

“Him.”

Hachiashi, who had by now scented out the approaching thread of interrogation, shrewdly narrowed her eyes. “I said I’d told him some pushy things, Yams. Which I did, too. Why-ever does my much-beloved sister ask?”

Yamame folded her arms on her chest. “I was under the impression,” she said, “that you and him weren’t on speaking terms.”

“That’s probably since I told him to tell you so, yes. He really did at that, huh.”

“Then the two of you have spoken?”

“We’ve more than spoken, Yams,” Ashi said, uncharacteristically drawing on a frown of her own. “We’ve talked. There were times you weren’t nearby, and someone had to tell to him a sprinkling of important little truths which someone else never had. About us, about the Underworld… About you, was the topic of most note. Then, I had him tell me some things about his side. Oh, the things, Yams! The things he told me – especially after I got him drunk that one time!…”

The caterpillars on Yamame’s face had now progressed to open war. “He doesn’t drink, Ashi. I tried to get him to, once. He told me he didn’t – very firmly.”

“That is funny,” said Ashi; “logical he would tell you so, but funny – especially as I’ve a vivid image in my head of him tripping and tumbling all over these very chairs right here. A leg broke off, even. Was it his? Chair’s? Chair’s, I think. One of those, anyway.”

Yamame Kurodani did her damnedest as not to glance sideways at the one chair she knew very good had now for a while suffered from one mysteriously wobbly leg. “… Why?” she muttered. “Why is it that neither of you has thought it meet to clue me in until now? Why was I being excluded?”

Hachiashi’s eyes all but began to glow self-satisfaction. “Ah, now there is something precious! Are you actually being jealous now, Yams? Good! Good, sister! Hold on to that feeling. Wrap it up! Imagine, next time you make for a rush start, or overnight on site hounding over those pesky last-minute details, I may be back down here, pretty dress on me, drinking your human under the table. Wouldn’t that be a sight?”

“Ashi…”

“Of course, I’d much rather you were doing that, Yams,” Ashi continued, smiling an angelic little smile whose innocence reached no further than the edges of her colourless lips. “See, for all that I appreciate what he does, I don’t think I like Paran. He is big, clumsy, stubborn yet indecisive, and arrests entirely too much attention of one of my sisters, whom I sometimes – just sometimes, nothing selfish – want to have to fawn over all by myself.”

Yamame Kurodani, star of the Underworld, began to feel an eclipse oncoming.

Mercenary. The word had not been an accident. It had been a hint.

“Ashi?” Yamame murmured, palming her face not unlike her human had been, a little over half an hour before, in the same room and not a much dissimilar spot. “Say, here…”

“What’s up?” Ashi leaned forward, giddy all over. “What is it, Yams?”

“… Would you like to stay for today?”

The younger spinstress clapped her hands together in delight. The sound was a dry branch snapping above a web. “Yams, that is wonderful!” Hachiashi was squealing. “Of course I’ll stay. Thank you; oh, thank you! What are we doing to do? Anything is fun with you.”

“… We could look over our upcoming project,” Yamame speculated, more by sheer force of momentum than that of any remaining willpower. “Someone would have to do it with you, sooner or later. We could also start finally tearing down those dresses. I’ve been forgetting about those.”

Ashi clapped again. “Anything’s fun with you, Yams – even if it’s terribly boring stuff. Can we gossip, too? We younger earth spiders do love to gossip, you know.”

“… Ashi?” Yamame groaned. “One question, before all.”

“Shoot, Yams.”

“What else aren’t you telling me?”

“Mm. Hmm.” The younger spider touched a musing finger to her cheek. “There was that one thing. See, there was a certain silly-named ‘Hachiashi’ on the board for house-wide laundry today. Imagine that! Not sure how it’s relevant, but here it is. Something I wasn’t telling you.”


Yamame Kurodani, she who had seen Old Hell destroyed and built again, now abruptly found herself wanting to cry at each and every snake and cheat who demonstrably constituted her inner circle.

Instead, she began to laugh, and laughed, until her belly hurt.


>> No. 15329
It's a little pathetic to outright bribe someone for their attention, wouldn't you say?
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