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File 151148287160.png - (1.17MB, 1126x1600, 13jpg.png) [iqdb]
15717 No. 15717
Wherein happens something terrible.
196posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 15966
Fasten your seatbelts lads.
>> No. 15967
Go home Paran you are drunk
>> No. 15968
File 152797716841.png - (933.95KB, 1000x833, __kurodani_yamame_and_kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn.png) [iqdb]
15968


Gingerly, the spider slid out of her shoes, socks… and stepped into the pool.

A spasm of pain, warning, knifed up the meat of her calves. Corrosive, gluttonous acids sank their chemical hooks into her skin, seeking purchase, prying wide the passage for virulent, invasive toxins. They bit into her flesh, spearing, cutting… and found themselves utterly repelled.

The earth spider’s biology burned the poisons away into hissing smoke. Her magickally-sustained tissues mended and revitalised ahead her blood was fouled. Caustic, ravenous compounds which would have liquefied her footwear were no more adverse to her body than a prankster’s bucket of ice-water. Yamame Kurodani waded in, half up to her knees in the digestive soup – acquainted with the first step, knowing in the second, impervious by the third. The mother of plagues would not be struck low by her own species’ art.

Her own species…

The thought jarred her attention from the kneeling Paran-thing and swept her eyes lengthwise the desolated forest. A bolus of indignation, scalding and bitter, rolled up from her abdomen.

This… was no spider’s doing. It had no punctiliousness, no finesse, none of the needle-point function which contained the spiders’ work. The venoms and gastric acids were spewed about, any-old-how, over nothing to be eaten – nothing to drive off – for no ready purpose but this was what spiders were said to do. It was the act of something which knew of the Underworld’s builders – but not their inner lining. An architect-pseud, drafting up a house with all the walls, windows, doors and a roof outward, but no supports or partitions within.

It was an imitation. Unthinking, misguided… and disastrous.

She shivered off the interfering thoughts and trained her eyes once more on the thing that had done it all.

The thing, in defiance of its familiar silhouette, was a headache to keep in focus. It skimmed. It skipped. It slicked her natural senses and glided past, like a dream-moth blending in with surrounding reality. It bled light through its outline. As if it did not want to be seen. As if Yamame, like the rest of her spider sisters, had never been meant to see it.

But she was what she was, whatever the thrice-damned Komeiji had fancied; and she poured her youkai’s mind forward at the blurring shape, until the likeness of her human lover was fully resolved.

She recognised, with a tug of disgust, that the Paran-thing was not wearing a blindfold. The blackened stripe bisecting its face was not fabric, but discoloured flesh. A patch of scorched (or diseased) skin circling its skull in a sick counterfeit of cloth. Another imitation. Another lie. What else was fake?

The ground beneath the surface of the necrotic slurry was not; and Yamame, her main focus elsewhere, suddenly rammed a toe into something indigestible jutting out of the forest floor.

She cried out. Not from pain, but, startled, out of sheer surprise. Her brain unscrambled after a heartbeat, calming down. Then, it grasped what she had done.

Ahead of her, the false Paran stabbed into definition.

The crying sheared off; the wordless despair – killed in a flash. The imitation blazed bright with painful, toxic colour. The hands, which had been clutching its marred face, flaked uselessly onto its lap. The two eyes entombed in the black, “blindfold” flesh sliced open. Its head cracked into a wary, forward position.

It gazed directly past Yamame.

The earth spider stood, transfixed by her own tension and the milk-rot white of the imitation’s eyes. It was as its head was cocked in childlike confusion, and the eyes never centred, that something else caught in Yamame’s web of awareness.

The Paran-thing was blind.

“… Naoto?”

The sound of the voice – the timbre, inflection – was so, so close to her heart. All but, and the spinstress would have whipped about on her naked heels to see whether her beloved human had followed her into the poisoned glade after all. But, no. Paran could not have done that. Not without a risk. Not without irreversibly damaging his health – never mind her trust.

What had spoken was the fake – the false Paran – now poised alertly on its haunches. It raised its scarred face – to reveal it somewhat younger than the one she knew by heart. Not so distant as to seem changed… but enough to make her briefly remember mortality.

“… Naoto?” The blind creature called again. “Are you there? Have you come to speak to me?”

Yamame felt bile pump up into her gullet.

At first, she had no idea why. But, as the imitation stared searchingly into the nothingness it saw, she had plenty apt opportunity to divine the well-spring of her revulsion.

The thing knew his name.

More, for it was calling him. As one would a friend. As one might a confidant.

The simple fact slashed open a pocket of realisations Yamame Kurodani had not seen – had not been allowed to see – before. But, having once peered into the Yatagarasu eye carried by the god-raven, Utsuho, she knew all at once what the wretched thing in front of her truly was.

It was Paran. Not an imitation, not a fakery; it was the original after whom her beloved human had taken his public name. It was the mask – the excuse with which Yamame’s envoy had guiled the concerns of their warrantees. It was the lie – born of hate, and later hated by its speaker.

It was the god, Paranseberi.


>> No. 15969
Thus, the final boss battle commences.

[Paranseberi the Lie]
>> No. 15970
Oh shit. This is it.
>> No. 15972
File 152811286687.jpg - (264.79KB, 800x1047, 147414478672.jpg) [iqdb]
15972


The god mewled. Animal impulse saw it drop forward to all-fours.

“Naoto? Naoto! Speak to me – please!”

Yamame Kurodani, the eldest of the earth spiders (against whom the god was sworn), swallowed down an almost solid lump of sick, blighted saliva. She breathed in. She filled her lungs of the godling’s effluence. The taste made her want to add her own into the fold.

A low, spiteful whisper sizzled off her tongue ahead her lips might shut and lock it in.

“… He cannot hear you.”

The godling’s ears, nowhere so impaired as its eyes, were alerted with spider accuracy to Yamame’s location. The unseeing, unseen face swung her way, at once furious, wishful and afraid. The familiar, absurd medley of emotions hurt to watch. It made her desperately long to be yesterday.

“… Who?” the blind god was demanding. “Who is this? Where is Naoto?”

Yamame’s reply was flat.

“He cannot hear you.”

“Who says so?” The godling’s manner grew distraught. “What have you done? Who are you?”

Yamame Kurodani paused amid a surge of unreasoning hate and pity for the ragged being. She saw herself, braced on widespread feet, stately and dangerous even in her chubby, female body. Her mouth was pursed tight; her nose was drawn from the reek of decomposition and bubbling humours. She saw the godling – ill and starved, stooping in its own filth. The misery was perfectly counterpointed by the immaculate white of its robes.

But still, the spider thought, it was an enemy. The course she had promised to her human seemed frayed and immaterial beside access to the villain who had given the slip to her sisters. The one who had devastated her home. The one who had, even earlier, ravelled her in allegations of a motiveless murder. The one whose existence alone had denied her her lover’s real name.

And now, that bastard creature, the so-called spider god, was begging her name, egging her on. Yamame Kurodani was an earth spider; by the very nature of her species she was disinclined to unprovoked hostility. A spider did not attack unless attacked; it was far too designing and arithmetic a kind for that. It had to be pushed; it had to be harried to lash out.

This very good counted.

The mother of plagues unsheathed her fangs. She threw out a pose, for no effect but to discharge the tightness in her limbs. She indulged the nascent god’s request.

“My name is…” she began, “… I am Yamame Kurodani.”

The godling stilled as if paralysed. Its jaw hung slack. The spittle-flecked lips moved with numb motion. They mimed the shape of the name. Again. And again. Its useless eyes glazed over as it seemed to think. To weave something out of fleeing memories. To dredge it up.

At last, to know.

No prior brush with the divine might have cushioned Yamame against what stitched out. The mother of plagues squinted, stiff and queasy, as the Paran-god crumpled backward onto its seat. The slime pooled around it splashed, wrinkled – belching up bubbles of carrion gas. The godling’s filthy hair arced in the air when it threw its head back. It hinged open its mouth…

… And cackled.

The threat of the eldest, deadliest of earth spiders poised before it did nothing to obscure its sick amusement. It cackled on, until Yamame’s teeth were grinding and her stomach turned. It cackled still even as it spoke.

“I have found her!” it exulted. “I have found her, Naoto! She is here! At last, at lassst—”

The shrill exclamations died as the Paran-god burst into life.

It swung its arms over its head, fists balled. It hammered them down into the foetid pool with such virile speed, Yamame’s spider’s eyes had never registered it until it was done. The pool split. A hurl of sludge, puke-water and scraps of half-digested things exploded all around the godling. Yamame curled. She danced back, out of the range of falling projectiles. She kept her mind cold, steady – patiently hanging back at the periphery of the attack.

And that was how the godling had willed it.

A single tendril of hyper-condensed venom lanced under the onslaught at the spider. A spear-tip shot of the blackest poison, superbly camouflaged in the raining sewage.

She had no time to duck. The fishgig of toxins hooked the side of her neck. She yelped, wincing. A misled instinct slapped her hands over the wounded place. The mistake was made plain when the skin on her palms began to sting and flake. Her youkai’s core raced, pulsing, to restore its physical sheath. But this venom was more potent by half than what had been used to render down the soft forest life. The wound seeped, leaking pus and runny flesh down the collar of her earthen dress. Yamame moaned, for the first time, in pain.

Ahead of her, the Paran-thing had stood up. It was reaching for the sky. It laughed – cried – laughed again in manic glee, even as the last of the filthy rain pattered off its immaculate robes.

“I’ve done it!” it gloated. “I’ve done it, Naoto! I’ve harmed her! I’ve hurt the monster! Will you speak to me now? I’ve done as you asked! Naoto? Speak to me! NAOTO!”

It was the name.

It was, once more, the name that did it. Not the shock; not the trauma of wounding. Not the pain. Not her own body tainting the dress which had been lovingly sewn to contain it. It was the name. Its repeated, demented, irreverent use. Its innocent sound defiled by the godling’s toxic tongue. It was the jealous awareness that it had known it – while she had not – that broke her.

Yamame Kurodani, the earth spider, the eldest among the Underworld’s spinstresses, gnashed her hollow, envenomed teeth. Her head swam. She swayed on her feet, clutching at the wet, corroded flesh of her neck, and hissed. She hissed like an overfilled kettle, as her hate, envy and anger boiled furiously to the fore of her brain.

The heat-spill of emotions ate away at a set of restraints somewhere in the gut of her soul. A set of restraints she herself had placed. A set that she, Yamame Kurodani, had fashioned of her own unrepressed will to fetter an ability which she had vowed would never again be released without a reason.

The restraints softened, flexed… and fell away into the abyss below, as the mother of plagues unleashed her darkest gift.

There was no arcane gesture. No word of power. No flourish to the spell. The one instant the godling was cackling; the next, it was collapsed on its knees, retching up chunks of diseased meat and gangrenous blood. It gaped with dumb consternation at the innards evacuating its own body. It took it five foul, delicious heartbeats to wrap its flimsy, new-born mind around what had happened.

What had been done to it.

Who had done it.

As it rounded on her, drooling blood on its no more unstained robes, Yamame Kurodani thought, in a less frenzied part of her brain, that misalignments may have been made. That, as she had its human peer in an entirely unlike circumstance, she had rattled the god-Paran’s sanity too far out with this direct assault. That, by employing the very method which had touched off its birth, the yearly malady may have sunk her fangs too close its abscessed heart.

The timid theory was confirmed when the godling began to shriek. The forest floor shivered in sympathetic pain. And as her own power had been brought to bear, so too now Paranseberi called on its domain in full capacity with no theatrics of a warning.

The spider god’s soul tore asunder, and out its pestilential depths blew a gale of pollution.

It punched into the earth spider like a falling tower. The calamitous, malign wind lashed and ripped at her undefended body.

It stripped away her skin.

It dried and scraped out her eyes.

It blasted inside her mouth and burst open her cheeks. It batted down her faceless body and clawed at her ruined, flayed limbs. Slowly, without mercy, the howling wrath of the crazed god peeled away everything that she was…

… Until only the spider in her marrow remained.


>> No. 15973
It's now REAL YOUKAI HOURS
>> No. 15974
F
>> No. 15975
God of Plague(?) Vs the Mother of Plague.
>> No. 15977
File 152824101568.jpg - (469.91KB, 924x1265, 148115700448.jpg) [iqdb]
15977


Instinct.

Intent.

The arachnid mind knew little difference.

Out of a fold in reality, the great spider barged into existence. From out of shadows in mind-space, some infinitesimal crack between legend and life, it surged into abrupt physicality. It emerged to a world flooding in distressingly from all somatic vectors. A world of light, pheromone-scents and battling vibrations. Of raging, hostile pressures. Of violence.

It arrested its leap, almost delicate on its pointed feet. It touched down, its bulbous abdomen skidding on the moist, slick ground. In the same time-span it took a fly to cycle its wings fiftyfold, the spider’s elongated brain appreciated its new circumstance in full. The state it was in.

Attacked.

It rode out the black, abrasive wind, flattening defensively. Villain currents kinked and snarled the feeling-hairs spaced along its legs. They reaved the spider of its favoured sense. Its complex mouth-parts splayed, hinging up, fat mandibles screening the octet of fragile, lidless eyes atop its head. It was blinded, deaf and confused.

But, even here, amid sensory chaos, there was an underlying pattern. A weave. A direction to the assault.

The spider’s teardrop head moved on its waist-neck. A thread was thrummed in its hyper-specialised brain. A bundle of threat-response synapses fired in vicious synchrony – swapping out the brain’s entire paradigm.

From attacked… to attack.

The great spider slid lightly, skilfully, under one whiplash blast conjured by the unseen, unfelt enemy, and rolled around the second. It thundered into the third, its bulk carrying it through – its hooked feet easily snatching purchase even from the quagmire terrain. The spider hammered into the attacking shadow, wielding its two foremost limbs like humans of old wielded their strange, cold, mirror-sheen wing-shells that attached weirdly to their wingless arms.

The assailant vibrated at a frustrating frequency, briefly. Then it crashed backwards into the bog.

As if at the touch of a god, the filth-storm abated. The torrent snapped; it coiled, rumbled once, and slurped out of the forest-space through a non-dimensional hole. The air hushed with an unnatural, sticky eagerness. A nigh-noon Sun reasserted itself over the tree-tops – pouring its light down on the glade like a thick, lukewarm blanket.

The great spider splayed out its limbs. In its relief, it rubbed the wetted mouth-parts over its irritated eyes. Its less-weighed hind-legs strummed the main, mobility limbs in a frantic effort to disentangle the precious hairs. Ahead of it, somewhat laterally, the assailant ruptured out of the swamp.

The spider moved before it thought to move. It pounced, impossibly, from a stand-still position, smacking aside the attacker’s upraised front limbs. The hard, flesh-wrapped ball seated between them flashed with new definition when the assailant cracked wide its colourless sensory orbs. Its breathing orifice was spread open; and it fell bodily as its paired, twin lower limbs gave out underneath it. It splashed back into the swamp, scurrying and vibrating.

The spider wavered.

It loomed, hesitating, over the questionable prey-shape – half-expecting a quiet, female voice to come out and harshly tell it no. It waited, drooled, each wasted nerve-tick feeding into its annoyance. It deferred to the voice’s decision.

… But none was coming.

The sweet, young, female voice which had so oft spoken softly to its mind – at times chiding, at times advising, like a gentle brood-mother – was silent. It did not tell the great spider no. It did not croon, “Not-prey, not-prey” into its ear. It did not chide. It did not say anything.

So prey it was.

The great spider’s fangs slashed out of their sleeves with a spray of pressurised fluids. The spider pinned the writhing man-thing down. It stabbed one of the long, onyx-black blades into the tender gap between the prey’s shoulder-joint and its neck.

The blade glided past the layer of skin, sinking in a full quarter of its length ahead it ran into first resistance. The spider clenched, ignoring the prey’s cacophonic vibrations and thrashing limbs. The micro-serrated edge sawed into and past the warm, palpitating organs with a slick, sensual ease. When at last the first fang was hilted in the prey’s quivering torso, the spider stretched its multi-parted face… and, unceremoniously, punched the second one up under the man-thing’s ribs.

As it pumped the twitching body tight with venom and preliminary enzymes, the spider cast its simple mind back onto its own self.

It touched along its decentralised brain with soft, concerned nerve-probes. It ran its imaginary legs over the place inside itself whence the voice had always come… and found it numb. It found it swollen. Hard. The voice’s home was a beady nub under the rind of its soul. A clot. A cyst wrapped around some metaphysical damage the spider had not received nor understood.

What it did understand was that the voice had been wounded somehow. That it needed help. Healing. A dose of energy. Nutrition. Sustenance.

It needed to eat.

The spider turned its caring attention inside-out. The prey’s body, which still hosted its fangs, had distended. It was dead – dead, soft and ripe for consumption. The fangs slid out of the mushy torso. They snagged on the paper-thin skin, tearing out little chunks of pulpy, pre-digested meat.

Its complex feeding piece flowered out to reveal a black, dribbling gullet.

Not knowing – or caring – what it was it had killed, the great spider began to eat.


>> No. 15978
File 152832574033.jpg - (493.80KB, 1126x1600, 151148287160.jpg) [iqdb]
15978


She stumbles out of the poisoned glade bleary, sluggish and bloated.

She sways. Her nude feet kiss into the hot, marshy forest floor. They suck free, tugging away at her already weakened balance. She did not find her shoes. They are gone – as is most everything in an eye-leap’s radius. The trees are excoriated. Their bark has been pared off. Their naked, creamy stems stand defenceless in the insect-heavy air. The forest floor is razed. Still, rotting life litters the ground.

Kurodani Yamame walks on. She smothers down the urge to bend over and heave. The sour desolation stretches on, even as she totters out onto the Sun-baked mountain road. She throws the few final steps out almost by willpower alone, and crumples beside her waiting human.

She gives in and lets her stomach cramp freely over a patch of wet, diseased grass. The spider’s meal does not come out. She retches for a full, painful minute – but the loathsome, sticky essence remains lodged in her soul. She spits out a string of yellowed, bilious drool, and wipes an arm across her mouth. She sits up, smiling a rueful little smile at her human.

He does not smile back. But then, she figures he has scant little incentive to do so.

She apologises. She tells him, in a nauseous, faltering voice, that she is sorry. That her pride ran ahead of her wits. That the godling’s backlash quite whelmed over her blackest expectations. That she never meant for things to escalate so. That she is deeply, penitently sorry.

Her human does not reply. But then, Yamame remembers, he has only lately learned to speak to her at length at all.

She asks him whether he has seen what took place in the poisoned clearing – then answers, ahead he may, that neither does she. She explains the memories of her spider core are inaccessible; that the monster’s sense-recollections are coded in a way which her human shape simply cannot understand. She says, weakly, that the godling wasn’t there when she came to. She lies that she does not know where it has gone.

She speeds up. She tells her human, again, how sorry she is. She says, once more, that this has been her fault, hers alone; that her jealousy drove her up a mental wall, rendered her dumb. That, whatever sour relation Kurodani Yamame has effected between the human and his god, she will endeavour to mend it. That she will replace it however she can. She promises him this.

Paran stares on without speaking. But then, Yamame knows, he can do nothing else.

As if rousing at last from a long, romantic dream, Kurodani Yamame looks up at the motionless face of her first and only lover. She sees the handsome, slightly scraggly, but lovable features. She sees the lips she has been taught feel very good on hers. She sees the brows over the human’s fantastic eyes, squished into a dim, somewhat distressed frown.

She sees the dry, milky crust collected on the rims of his eyelids. She sees the eyes themselves, frozen in a faint expression of surprise, or some mistake realised too late. She sees the purple veins clearly under the bedsheet-white skin. They are dilated, turgid from coagulating blood. She sees the stale, sickness-laced saliva trickling down his chin. She sees his still, unmoving chest.

She does not know, at first, how to feel.

A flight of memories swims up to the surface of her mind. The catching of her human’s name. The clumsy attempts to redefine their acquaintance afterwards. The baring of the human’s strange desire to embrace spiders on their visit to the underground Capital. Hijiri’s missive. Their asinine bet on the same evening, which spurred on even less innocent things. The accusations, which her human soundly rejected. The few consequent days, full of creativity and pleasant distraction.

The six days of project that arrived, then culminated when something treacherous was unveiled. The next morning, when more treachery yet came out to light. Its diffident forgiving on the Sun-scorched flatland road. The discovery of her eaten home. The educative sojourn in Komeiji’s private realm. An argument and a resolution. The three dreamlike nights in consequence, of being filled with her human’s love. The fervent declarations when at last Hachiashi broke the news… which may or may not have pushed him to pre-empt her confrontation with his god.

All of these have changed something inside the spider. All of them have by degrees caused it to desire more from life than the empty idleness of its sisters or the constant, mindless revelry of the Oni. All of them have made the spider crave something… someone… who would satisfy its deeper, both higher and lower appetites. They have made it hopelessly will that someone to love it, despite its sins.

And now, they have left it with this bitter end. Paran’s lifeless stare drives it in like a mallet.


The earth spider begins to cry.

She cries as the Sun rides the sky into noon. She raises plaintive, desperate pleas up into the humid summer air. Nothing heeds them.

Kurodani Yamame has no gods.
>> No. 15979
what
no way
what the
>> No. 15980
RIP. Actually caught me by surprise, I'll say that much.

A dead Garion would make it nice and even.
>> No. 15981
How the fuck did he die!?
>> No. 15982
Meh, so is this the result of voting for Yamame to end it herself?
>> No. 15983
>>15981

Paran the human and Paran the god are actually one and the same, the same way that Yamame the humanoid and Yamame the spider are one and the same. Paran simply severed his human and god halves apart, and took steps to further separate the two, such as taking a new name. But the human and the god were still two sides of the same coin, so what happened to one was inevitable for both.

When Paran dies, Paran had no choice but to follow in its footsteps.
>> No. 15984
Glorious. Never change, YAF.
>> No. 15985
>>15983
Or he was just too close. I'm not sure which would be more tragic.
>> No. 15986
[X] Undo choice.
>> No. 15987
>>15986
>>15982
Read the OP. The game was rigged from the start.
>> No. 15988
Damn you, ChekhovParanseberi. I knew you were going to be a problem when you insisted that you didn't exist as a god.
>> No. 15989
Is this the actual end of the quest?

I was typing up my reaction but I'd prefer to be certain on that first.
>> No. 15990
>>15989
It's over mate.

I mean, OP might write an epilogue or something, or he might not.
>> No. 15992
File 152883408323.jpg - (474.81KB, 871x900, 68870278_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
15992
EPILOGUE

Winter was creeping in.

Morning had dawned dewy and mild; but, across the hours following, the Sun had nurtured a shy streak and fled above the blanket of granite-grey clouds. Moisture had frozen, spinning a spiderweb-crack rime of frost on the tired soil. The air was thin, static; even over the open fields which enwreathed the humans’ walled town, the wind, it seemed, had taken a breather. Not a blade of grass was bent.

A ways removed from the town, more nearby the Buddhist hive of Myouren-ji than anyplace else, a peculiar stretch of terrain had been sectioned off from its surrounds. A shepherd’s stone fence had been stacked, in some past time, to mind its border. The ground had been levelled. Alleys, crossing and criss-crossing, were running the enclosure in a decussated pattern. The gaps in the weave were filled out with long, flat slabs of sanded stone.

There were many, many like slabs in the yard. Each had, on its placing, been labelled with a singular name. Some names were etched on plaques of wood; some – with special opulence – had been scribed in bas-relief in the slabs themselves. Some were without names – unremembered, or never revealed. Each was someone consigned to the earth beneath.

It was a yard of graves. A haunting ground. Not for the dead; for those were long waiting their lines in the courts of the Yama. It was a place (paradoxically) for those yet living. For humans – to contemplate the stones which now stood in for their loved ones. For youkai – to stalk in hopes of quenching their unique hungers.

Over one such stone stood one such youkai.

A lone wheeze of wind yawned, unnaturally, from the adjoining edge of the forest. Then, it stilled.

Yamame Kurodani, the earth spider, the great architect of the Underworld, all the same tucked the halves of her stiff, still-new coat tighter about her sides. The decision to take it along had been chance; seasons did little anything to influence the Underworld – less a slight, overall downturn in percolated rain. Up here, on the surface of the world, however, winter was firmly digging its claws in.

Yamame sighed. She was keeping a weather eye on the prowling tsukumogami a few alleys distant. At the same time, she mulled over the stone at her feet. She read and re-read the name graven on its upper face. Again, and again – though the result was every time the same.

It was a name she had never known.

As the other youkai moved on aimlessly, the earth spider crouched and touched a hand to the slab. It bit at the tips of her sensitive fingers with a hard, vindictive cold. Yamame did not yield. She kept touching the stone… until, at length, her skin drew and ached in a sharp, nerve-root objection. She flinched back.

“… Sorry,” she murmured, grimacing and righting up.

A moment slid by, and she felt a fool for apologising. The accustomed state of mind tweaked her cheeks into a smile. She giggled. It made her feel even more foolish.

The tittering spider poked a hand into a pocket of her coat, and out produced an otherworldly, scarlet rose. The rose was stunted and foxed from the journey; it was stolen as well – smuggled out from the subterranean lighthouse tended by Yamame’s Oni mentor, Nikuyama. It did not have to have been stolen; Niku would have packed his “little spider” a crate of the roses had she but asked. But the spider had been in a contrary mood. She had pinched one of the dwarf flowers at the stem, stuffed it in her coat, and brought it out here. To the world above. To see the Sun – for the first and only time in generations.

She placed the rose on the grave.

“… I am sorry, too,” she promised. She kept her voice a whisper, so as not to alert the sneaking tsukumogami. “I really am. I’d never meant for… anything. I hadn’t meant for you to come and… That’s why I am sorry. But, all together, despite everything… Thank you. Really, really thank you.”

The stone did not reply. Yamame smiled even so.

As the timid Sun winked through a tear in its cloudy overlay, the eldest among the Underworld’s spinstresses turned away and began to walk. She picked an alley which would keep her under the other youkai’s notice. She circled round it, until the cemetery’s fence loomed out of the overgrowing brush. Yamame hopped it with spider ease.

The ritual done, the earth spider bolted her mind around less spiritual matters. She stitched the spell at the back of her head, and rose, smoothly, into Gensokyo’s overcast sky.

A peek round for spying eyes, and she sailed east on the wintry air – for the humans’ terracotta-roofed town.


>> No. 15995
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15995


The months intervening the incident and now had been busy.

When second-best, Hachiashi, had proposed to “clean up” the remains of Yamame’s home would be necessary, she had spoken in euphemism. The house’s corpse had to be extirpated altogether. Nothing structurally sound had been spared the dissolution; even the sturdy, marble pillars (taken from the ruined palaces of the Yama) which had served as padstones for her home, had been left stained, porous and ruddy. Like rotten teeth. She had pulled them all – with the help of her sisters.

The younger earth spiders had as one entreated their eldest to move in with them in the absence of a private den. Yamame Kurodani, staunchly, had put their offers down. She bade her nights, instead, nearer to her work. She slept on a rough cot fashioned from sack-cloth and bales of raw fabric, nested as they might best be atop her beloved human’s push-cart. The cart had lodged, miraculously, in a bend of the existing staircase; thus, it had been excluded from the godling’s bout of acid misery. Not every one of Hijiri’s grants to the earth spiders had survived its stay in the tunnels (nor, indeed, the spiders’ attentions); still, what Yamame hadn’t used in making her bed (or quartered out to her impatient sisters) had made for good barter in the underground Capital, once she had ventured down to shop for materials.

The large-hearted Oni had proven most helpful (at least they had once Nikuyama had lent his long-unused arbiter’s voice); and, within few weeks in following, the little cavern in the outlets of the Underworld had been seeing creativity the like it had not in an aeon. With piles of powdery bricks, bundles of oil-conserved planks, bags of lime mortar and glue, and one spider huffing and sweating, it had been made a busy scene.

Other earth spiders came and went in numbers: in twos or threes at first – then, trickling down, by themselves – to butt into their eldest sister’s work. Not always with effect; some sitting by without use until evening hours; all the same every day saw one of the younger spiders come to watch Yamame stir the mortar, saw the wood and stack the bricks.

She had figured the method in their visits ahead much too long. It was a schedule. A queue – like as not Hachiashi’s mathematics. To keep Yamame’s tabs. To make certain of the elder spider’s well-being. To keep watch of her mental state. All, obviously, very needless; but, if her family had a stake of honour in worrying, then all Yamame had to do was let them. It cost her scarce at all; and, at the end of each day, it gave her someone whom to bid an honest good-night.

That alone, perhaps, paid off the indignity. A side of it, anyway.

Satori Komeiji, likewise, had made some attempt at diplomacy.

A mere month subsequent of their last meeting, Yamame Kurodani had been tugged out of her sleep by the tap-tap-tap of booties on the stone and the swish-swish-swish of oversized sleeves. The youngest of clan Komeiji, dumpy in her grandmother’s floral smock, had come to make amends. To let the earth spider know an inquiry by one of the Hakurei shrine maiden’s affiliates had been mounted (and thoroughly dismounted by Old Hell’s authorities) as well – but to make amends first of all.

San Komeiji owned little of the flair for rhetoric her father did; thus, her explanation had been simple.

“She is sorry,” the flawed mind-reader had said. “She may not have told me to tell you in so many words, but this was what she was.”

Yamame had nodded that she’d understood.

“Would you like me to carry back an answer?” the girl had asked.

The earth spider had shaken her head from atop the cart.

San had made a face. “This is going to hurt her.”

“Yes,” Yamame had replied.

The youngest Komeiji had been visibly disaffected by the response. Still, she had taken it – slotted it inside a mental envelope – and left the earth spider to her work.

The work was coming along nicely, too – if nicety included a stock of old, crumbling bricks in not near to adequate a quantity. Two rooms of serviceable size and a kitchen had been the ruling of Yamame’s calculations. Not even half the size of her previous home. Never ahead had the loss of her human’s resources been felt any keener; and, short of months to scavenge about the site of the Old Capital for yet-unearthed stockpiles, two rooms and a kitchen had no recourse but to do.

And do they would. Soon. Something else beckoned for the while.

Yamame Kurodani, the mother of plagues, the (self-) exiled, touched quietly down between two taller buildings at the periphery of the humans’ walled town.

A chunk of apprehension dropped and strained the web around her heart when she saw townspeople in strength passing by beyond the mouth of the alley. The earth spider wrapped it up. As well as she wrapped herself tighter in her clothes. She had counted on her cloak, muffler and cap to deflect inquisitive eyes; now, counting still, she padded out of the shadow to join the wandering humans.

To find her destination had been as easy (and difficult) as asking around.

Though Yamame had been given the desired name and location on her first incursion (and after but a few pragmatic questions); but, to whet her appetite (and blunt her misgivings), she had given it two and three and four more to place her goal against her mental lay of the town. When the yearly malady weaved among the commuting humans now, her steps were brisk, industrious – spider-like. No one stopped her, and she stopped for no one.

Then, as she turned a confident, well-practiced corner, presently her destination leapt into view.

A fenced, well-tended estate spanned fully the length of this street; even as Yamame cautiously approached, she might see the thick, imposing wings of its front gate – flung wide open to convey messengers and teams of loaded, hand-drawn wagons. The memory of her human pushing his own cart along in a cloud of sweat and strangled curses flitted in and out of her mind. The teams leaving the estate were doing little of the former – and much of the latter. They passed the lone Yamame by, with never a care but for loudly speculating the lineage of their next customer. The spinstress felt her mouth quirk up. Business, it seemed, was as business was; it mattered not whether made by humans or by cast-out youkai.

She muffled her amusement in her scarf and stepped boldly through the opened gate.

A wide avenue ran immediately from the threshold. Wide enough for six earth spiders to march abreast – or two wagons to brush by with the littlest room for accidents and yelling; it ran and ran, until terminating in the distance on the porch of a broad, single-storey house designed after the historic, eastern mode apparently imposed on Gensokyo’s humans. To both sides of the avenue, rows and rows of storage sheds, shelter-roofs and loading platforms were arranged – and amply jammed with merchandise.

The merchandise was fabrics. It was bales and bolts and folded squares of cloth of all make, colour and spin.

Yamame Kurodani ground to a halt as her expert’s eyes pulled in familiar patterns. She had seen some of these fabrics. She had passed them between her fingers. She had even worn some. Ahead she parsed what it might mean, her feet carried her aside from the approach and under one of the weather-beaten roofs.

A sheaf of stiff, coffee-ground-dye canvas lay on a flat bamboo platform – ready to be carted out. It lay there innocently; only Yamame knew it would absolutely murder the fingers of any hapless clothier who might wish to shape it into something useful. She knew this – simply for it had already murdered hers. The outer skin of her new coat had been cut from it.

But why? Yamame wondered. Why was the same fabric, which her beloved human had collected as part of Hijiri’s reimburse, here? In his family home?

No answer presented. No answer could – for they were all routed by a voice speaking at Yamame’s back.

“Hello? Miss? Can I help you?”

The spinstress span about to find a young, human woman fixing her with a politely commanding stare. A small, thin woman, who could not have been too far on the worse side of adulthood – bundled up in a plain work kimono and a warm winter wrap. Her long, coal-black hair was tied in a tight bun atop her head. The high, naked forehead – together with the sharp, angular eyes – somehow put Yamame in mind of a poising snake. The snake wasn’t ugly – other than its lacking figure; it was even, in some slippery, snaky way, pretty. Nor was it, for the moment, about to strike.

All the same, Yamame felt a jealous mislike well stubbornly under her heart.

“Miss?”

The woman, maybe sensing it, restated her demand. It snapped Yamame up to a full, attentive height. It was too close a match for her taste.

“Um…”

She hesitated. Words seemed, all of a sudden, a foolish thing. Not quite aware for what end, she tugged the cap off her head to allow her golden hair to spill down her shoulders. At length, she stitched out a sequence of words which, while still foolish, were at least not a lie.

“I am…” she said, “… I am Yamame Kurodani.”

The woman flinched, startled. Almost, and Yamame would have wagered she would cry out in shock. That she would announce her surprise to all within the bustling yard. She would have lost that wager.

For then, miracle of miracles, gods above stepped down – and the woman threw a loop of mental rope around her reactions.

She dragged them down – together with a wiry hand across her face.

“… Of course,” she murmured into her palm.

Ahead the earth spider might question of which course, the woman’s poise was patched back whole. She hung her (twiggy) arms and inflated her (even so flat) chest.

“Of course,” she agreed, all official again. “You would be. Follow me, if you’ll please.”

Then, haughtily, she heeled around on one foot – and started for the spacious house at the end of the boulevard.

Yamame followed.


>> No. 15996
File 152927463859.gif - (2.94MB, 297x348, 1529087252721.gif) [iqdb]
15996
GODDAMN THE TENSION IS LITERALLY KILLING ME.

Send help.
>> No. 15997
>>15996

Don't worry dude. There's no way OP would let this end on a sad note. Paran is probably going to get revived with the Super Dragon Balls or something.
>> No. 15998
>>15997
> There's no way OP would let this end on a sad note.

It's like you don't even know the guy.
>> No. 15999
>>15997
Hope never dies, but...
>> No. 16000
>>15998

>It's like you don't even know the guy.

I don't. The cabal hasn't granted me access to the identity of anonymous writers. You seem to know how his stories usually turn out though. Just ask yourself: what if that didn't happen this time? It would be pretty boring if all his stories ended the same, right? Maybe this is finally the one that's different.
>> No. 16001
>>16000

Hey, I'm not in on the cabal either. Just look at the comments, and the other stories (if you haven't read Tenshi Is in This Story yet, you're doing yourself a disservice). YAF's about as subtle as a nuclear-powered hell raven.

That's why we love him.
>> No. 16006
File 152987846445.jpg - (354.87KB, 558x632, 69320169_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
16006


She had been led to a room in the rear, business-less section of the house.

No work-stooped servant who they had passed in the house’s wood-panel corridors had overmuch paid mind to their passage. None had dared to pay mind, more pertinently – stepping out of the snake-like woman’s path as soon as noticing her slither their way. A huntress inside her grounds, the woman had shown Yamame into the room, advised taking a seat, and curtly instructed the earth spider to wait. Then, she had jammed the sliding-panel door close, and slithered off to fuss somewhere else.

Miracle of miracles, Yamame Kurodani had not minded a great deal herself. She’d imagined she had recognised some of the thoughts bulging the veins under the woman’s despotic skin. The thoughts weren’t too far off her own, once upon a time. The room had a straw-mat floor, a low table, four walls, and little else besides. Nothing much to thread her attention but to fall in and wait, Yamame had sat down at the table – and waited.

She had an idle ten of minutes to herself, to feel out the twill in the mats and count the knots in the table-top. She hadn’t counted all when her diversions were slipped away under the backcloth.

A slap-slap rush of feet, egressing from down the hallway without, came to a halt behind the door. There was a pause. A tap. Then, the sliding-panel door swished into openness.

Another human was kneeling on the floor of the entering side. A woman. A short, stout female, wending her way well into an age when salty streaks were colouring random wisps of her hair. As the snaky one had been, this one as well was rolled up in an indifferently-cut, functional robe. A twin pair of steaming, earthenware cups were rested on a wooden tray before her. A subtle tea-scent tinged the air of the room.

The servant (she had to be) served no heed to the youkai at the table; with a click of worn joints, she righted up to a weary stand. She bent over and picked up the tray; then, having first crossed the step of the door, she lowered herself back onto her knees. She set aside the laden tray and pushed close the door.

Ceremony satisfied, the ageing servant woman stood up again. She shuffled over to where Yamame was seated, and – never speaking – deposited one of the cups. As the earth spider was densely nodding her thanks, the woman turned to circle round to the other side of the table.

Sighing, she sat down.

Yamame had not expected nor requested to be brought a drink – but was glad being able to bore her eyes into its walnut depths when the servant showed no tells of leaving. Still, it was an ill place to hide a nervousness, and Yamame’s did not soon improve. Too distracted to fully register it, the spinstress raised the cup and breathed in a very familiar scent. It did little to better her like of the situation, but she tried a cautious sip all the same. The woman opposite of her seemed to mimic her motions. She lifted the other cup up to her lips and drank.

When the cups were returned to the table, it was almost in comical synchrony.

Against the tension inside her chest, Yamame began to giggle. She checked it fast – but not enough. The servant was staring.

“Ah, um—” The earth spider flushed. “… Sorry. I’m… I’m not good at this.”

The aged woman canted her head slightly to the side, as if admitting curiosity. She did not let it out it immediately, but when she did, she had a rich, resonant voice. A calming, almost sing-song voice, which all but put Yamame Kurodani in mind of things she – as a youkai – had never had.

“… Good at what?” the woman asked.

The earth spider shunted aside her bizarre associations. She dumbly shrugged her shoulders. “This,” she said. “I’m not good at this. At talking to humans.” She caught the innuendo in her words as they fled her mouth. She grimaced. “I—I mean, talking to you. You, humans. I mean… Um…”

Though she had half envisaged the servant would at least match her in expression (likely far worse); but the older woman merely cocked one of her brows.

“… Evidently,” she observed.

A few heartbeats went by that Yamame properly strung herself up in her head. An earth spider above all, she was good at that. The servant sampled her tea more ahead she further pursued their conversation.

“You are, then,” she said, sizing up the pin-cushioned spider, “Yamame… Kurodani?”

Yamame Kurodani surrendered a nod. “Yes.”

“The spider of illness?” the woman wanted to know. “The yearly malady?”

“… Yes.”

“The one from beneath the Goddesses’ Mount? The one who killed the head of this household?”

Yamame shrank. “… I didn’t mean to do that,” she protested. “Not on purpose. I never wanted to—”

“I know.” The woman’s eyes were hard – as though she was speaking a truth, but one difficult to release. “I know. For what it is worth, too… I hold no grudge against you. Not anymore. Yamame Kurodani has done some wrongs—” she smiled at a bitter angle, “—but not this one. We know this. We’ve all known it. Some of us simply… had to blame someone.

Yamame stared back, uncertain whether she was being absolved or lured onto craggy terrain.

The woman seemed to catch her words weren’t seaming. She fanned a dismissal with one wrinkled hand, then looped it back again around her cup. Yamame watched as she daintily sipped away, all the while sewing her thoughts into some kind of whole.

“… Are we,” she sewed out at length, “… Are we waiting for someone?”

The servant smiled above her tea. “I should hope so.”

The smile went on drawing her cheeks as she settled down her cup and reached for Yamame’s disrobed coat. Ahead an objection might mount the earth spider’s tongue, the aged woman shook straight the cloth Yamame had folded with meticulousness until it had made a perfect square atop the table’s. When one did climb up, the spinstress swallowed it down again. It is only a coat. The objection yelped with spider urgency, but Yamame had clamped her mouth. No echo issued out.

The servant was running a testing hand along where the stiff, outer skin was joined to its quilted padding. Her lips were pursed.

“You made this, then?” she asked.

Yamame blinked. Then, she blinked once more. “Um—” she forced out (still over the objection), “Ye—Yes. I did. It’s… It’s a bit untidy; my home was wrecked lately; I had to make do with little anything. I’d wanted about twice as many buttons and a thicker undercoat, but… I’d run out. I had to mooch most of that felt off my sisters, and it’s… It hasn’t been in the greatest care, let’s say. The overlay is really too tough, too.”

“We do not usually use it for clothing,” agreed the woman.

“But I needed something,” Yamame went on. “I needed something for the season. For the rain. And, when I went and trialled the fabrics I had still, this one was letting in the least water. It wasn’t letting in any, really.”

“That is what it’s supposed to do,” the woman replied absently. Her fingertips probed along Yamame’s stitching as if hunting kinks. “Canvas is less permeable by itself. We… coax it to be less permeable still, is all.”

Now Yamame was listening. “Coax it… How?”

The woman quietly gauged whether an earth spider could keep a trade secret. Though, whichever side of the gauge she came out on, a finger all the same went up to cross her lips. Yamame, jolting, copied the gesture. The woman inclined her head.

“… It is waxed,” she revealed. “At the tail of each Spring, we buy out the last of beeswax stock off the keepers. Second-rate, most of it; though, it weighs in very little to our purposes. Come Fall, we take the blocks out and cook them over a fire until they run like oil. We rack the canvas and paint it with the wax. As you would a wall. On one side – so some plasticity is retained; with a lean brush – so it lays on not too thickly. We pull the canvas from the rack after a while; and two our biggest men wave it between themselves for a well good bit. The hardest of the wax flakes and shakes off. One more man takes a palette knife to it and peels away whatever yet sticks out. We then cut it, quarter it, and sell it. As roofing, package wrapping, proofing, work surfaces…”

“But not for coats,” guessed Yamame.

“No,” confirmed the servant. “Not for coats. Too tough. Too much work.”

The earth spider grinned. “My bad.”

The woman fondling her coat made a replying sound. The reply was somehow displeased. “… And you made this,” she said, critically, “All of it, by yourself?”

“Um. Yes. I… I normally do.”

“All by hand?”

Yamame thought it over. “… I had a thimble. That probably sped things up.”

“No machine?” The old woman was scowling. “No… press, no hand-wheel?”

“… Hand-wheel?”

The woman let the coat slide from her hands. She shook her head, as if privately criticising someone’s obvious lapse.

Almost, and Yamame Kurodani would have wounded at this review. Almost, and she would have launched into a fierce defence of her work. Almost, and the mother of plagues, the eldest of the Underworld’s spinstresses, would have demanded to be shown this “hand-wheel” and how it could have done better than her own, seasoned fingers. Almost, and she would have done all of that.

But then, something else swapped out her indignation.

A rush of footfalls ripped into the hall beyond the room. A flight of heavy, clamorous footsteps, frantically gaining in volume.

The woman opposite of Yamame smirked. Then, she hid her face behind her tea-cup so quickly, the spinstress could no more say there had ever been a smirk at all. The panicked steps halted abruptly outside.

The door slammed open wide, rattling in its frame.

A man stumbled forward into the room.


>> No. 16007
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16007
...popcorn, anyone?
>> No. 16011
File 153044030024.jpg - (88.27KB, 1000x1000, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_yasui_nori__f1b4.jpg) [iqdb]
16011


He stopped. Caught his balance. His eyes scraped lengthwise the table between the two females. They snared on the human one. The brows above them hugged.

“… Why, this?” the man demanded.

The woman – the ageing, portly one – ignored him. She held her cup, tilted, up to her lips, until the tea was drained. Then, she set it back on the tray. When she spoke, her voice had a tangible arch to it. A kind of sportive lilt. Not at all like a servant’s.

“Our tenant has deigned to be carted out of bed, I see,” she said. “At last, might I add,” she faithfully did add; “I’d near run out of topics to entertain our guest. Scarcely proper, making me do that. You know I am busy.”

The man steamed his resentment. “… Akari took her time fetching me.”

“Always those,” the servant (or was she?) exhaled. “Always the girls, mucking things up for you. Aren’t they? Akari, Yamame—

The earth spider jerked straight at the sound of her name.

“—always them,” finished the woman, “knotting your laces, ruffling your hair. When-ever shall you disabuse yourself of this terrible gender?”

He secured no answer, breathing out his rush, glaring his frustration. Though he did step in to assist the woman once she moved to stand; but the old servant (she really wasn’t, was she?) smacked him away. She rose on clicking knees, sweeping up the tray.

“Ask, then,” she said, alarmingly breathless, “our guest, whether she’ll will to stay for dinner. I’ll have the cooks know. If you wish, too, you could join us – if your harsh sleep schedule’ll weather.”

“Thanks,” he said drily. Then, his face furrowed with suspicion. “… Why?”

The woman rolled her eyes at the ceiling. “Winter is inside the month,” she explained, mock-suffering. “An architect is unlike to see a lot of custom once snows begin to fall thick. I may have something to bridge her over. We but need to talk, first.”

Again, the man had no reply but for glowering his helplessness. The aged non-servant brushed by him, intent, for the door still open after his entry. A foot past its frame, and she twisted about.

“I imagine,” she said, “that the two of you both have things to say. I’ll leave you to say them in quiet. An hour should do, yes?”

“… Yes,” the man gave up.

“Then I expect an answer within the hour.”

“… Very good.”

The woman’s gaze took on a stern edge. “Ask her,” she repeated. “I won’t slip the Hakurei on her; nobody will. And if, then, she proves to me as trained a seamstress as you’ve repeatedly lined her out… I will deliver on what I said. May I depend on you? Naoto?”

The man, shutting his eyes, let go of a long, hoarse, grinding sigh. At its end, however – all sighed out – he seemed a mere half of his previous, angry size. He refilled his chest of the room’s musty air. At length, he looked, meekly, to the awaiting woman.

“… I’ll ask,” he surrendered, “… Mother.”

A feat of long years bullying obedience out of an entire household, the woman managed not to shape even an impression of a smile at her victory. She bowed her shoulders, instead – a weak, but mannered curtsy – at Yamame. Then, she quit the room fully – slid the abused door close with an unoccupied hand – and left.

And then, they were alone.


>> No. 16012
wat

how
>> No. 16017
File 153065830094.jpg - (68.92KB, 396x528, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_mugishima_orie__.jpg) [iqdb]
16017


The man, for a time, continued his scowling of the door.

At last – once he was amply satisfied it wasn’t like to split back ajar in a burst of overbearing parents – he slumped his back and swivelled on one leg. In a few terse, cutting strides, he reclaimed the spot at the table whence his mother had been diverting their guest. He dropped, weightily, down onto the straw-mat floor. The floor was tough; it squeezed a hiss of pain out of his throat. He rubbed his seat, annoyed.

Yamame Kurodani observed him. The eldest, most deadly of the Underworld’s earth spiders silently marked her time as the human kneaded away his mistake and began mining for his words. He would hack them from what Yamame had learned had always been a hard deposit. The type of deposit which commanded time – time, tools and effort – to extract. The words would chip out eventually; she but had to wait.

So, she waited. So, she observed.

All told, it was an odd sensation. His presence… The sight of him, his sounds, the accustomed motions… They were insidious. Like cherry wine poured down the crystal web of her mind. The clarity of purpose afforded by her work was quickly smeared a blush red. Her home – her precious new home, of two rooms and a kitchen – seemed now someway far away and false. A distraction with no real artistry or use.

Odder, for the longer she touched the feeling, the more hardly the spider inside felt it a problem – or even strange. What are you spinning now, Yamame Kurodani? wondered a more structured, the self-conscious Yamame. The outer one didn’t answer the question. She perked up, excited, when she spied her human about to discharge his bounty.

He did discharge it, too. He rumbled the mined words out in one, unbroken spill.

“… I am sorry,” he said.

Yamame received it with a grateful smile. Nobody had promised the bounty would be big.

“You are?” she indulged.

Her human sighed dramatically. “… For my mother,” he clarified. “For what she probably said to you. I apologise for that.”

“Oh?”

He rapped the fingers of one of his hands on the table. “This is what she does,” he grunted. “When she has no idea how else to broach a conversation. She bites – until she makes a hole.”

“Seemed to me you were the one getting bit,” opined Yamame.

The man shook his head. “That is different. She has been… short with me like that ever since I came back. Conversation or regardless.”

“Why?”

“As like as not,” he said, “this is my punishment.” He shrugged. “I made it abundantly plain everything that had happened had been my fault. She made it abundantly plain she wouldn’t soon forgive my attempting in great earnest to rid her of another member of her family.”

Yamame made an encouraging smile. “That just means she cares, doesn’t it? In great earnest.”

Her human scoffed. “Akari says so,” he allowed. “Of course, Akari has been even worse.”

A patch of silence sewed into the air between them even as each considered what it entailed to be worse than the man’s scorned mother. Nothing much had been when the man spoke again.

“… I am sorry, Yamame.”

“So you’ve said,” the spinstress agreed. “What else for?”

“That I wasn’t here,” he said. “That I wasn’t up to greet you. That you had to go through… those.”

Those, Yamame speculated inside, meaning other women around you? “Then you knew?” she asked aloud. “That I was coming by to visit?”

The man’s head again swayed left and right. “That you were around.” He went on when she didn’t follow, “When one inquiries about for one of the business families, it comes around. You were, weren’t you? Inquiring?”

Yamame bit on a lip. “Um… Yes. I was. It seemed subtle when I thought it up.”

“Might have worked in your Capital,” speculated the man. “Here, though… Someone was on your case ahead long. Tattled on you to my mother; gave a description. It was a simple thing to guess. There aren’t many girls around with your… uh, looks.”

“My hair, right?” Yamame wanted to know. “It was, wasn’t it? I’d hoped I’d hid it.”

“Among less light things. But—” he added, as if tact had all but – yet not quite – wrung his neck for the comment, “—since then, I have been trying to… to stay on my toes. In case.”

“But…?” Yamame supposed.

“But,” the man complained, “it hasn’t been the easiest. I’d been told not to overexert. So, Mother put me to fixing accounts together with our clerks. That means sitting late nights over a candle and a mountain of figures. Mornings haven’t been kind on me.”

Were they ever? the earth spider thought. But, for the sake of her human’s comfort, she let the argument lapse. Good thing, then, she praised herself inside; good thing she’d gone to visit the man’s father ahead she had come for him. Who would have rescued me if I’d been earlier?

The picture pushed a smile out onto her lips. She smothered it with a hand.

“Yamame?”

“… It’s nothing.”

For a lonely heartbeat or five, every possible impulse to abandon this web tugged at her mental strings. To let it snap. To tear it down in a blow of laughter; to leap out from under the table and drown her human under those “less light” things. But humans, hers included, were like walls. The harder a spider laughed at them, the less like they were to let her through.

Yamame Kurodani, a spider since memory served, drew a lock of that troublesome hair of hers behind an ear.

“… So?” she said, disappointed, “Why didn’t you leave me a letter? A message? Anything?”

The man frowned at her. “… How?”

Any-how.” The earth spider made a pout. “If you knew I was around… You could have written. You could have hammered it to a wall, or a roof. You could have had someone carry it to me. You could have visited. I’ve built a new home, you know? A mite more cramped than the last, but still. You would have fit.”

His frown deepened, as if smacked on the top. “… I wanted to.”

The refrain was growing familiar. “But?”

“Mother slipped hounds after me.” He sniffed. “They rolled me up like futomaki and dragged me back.”

How does a dog—? “And so?” she snapped, ahead her brain was beguiled by a silly mental image. “How did that prevent you leaving me a message? If you knew I’ve been around your town—”

A loud click of the man’s tongue tacked her questions to the insides of her cheeks. “… I wanted to,” he said again, grimly. “Yamame, I wanted to. Gods, I was about to bribe one of our runners to keep a look-out for you! A month’s savings – less my feedbag – from what loose change Mother deems worth my work.”

Yamame detected what was coming. “… But?”

“… But,” the man complied, “I wasn’t sure. I didn’t know. After what I… After I had lied to you yet again, after what you had to do… I couldn’t persuade myself you’d want to see me.” He raised his face when she didn’t reply. “… And you?” he pushed. “What about you? If you’ve been around town… Why didn’t you visit? I mean, before?”

The earth spider’s jaw hung open. She clacked it shut. Then, it opened again.

“I—” She hesitated. “… I didn’t think. That you’d want to see me. After what happened.”

The human stared at the spinstress. The spinstress stared at the human.

You are a pair of pebbles in the same shoe, she chided herself. Smooth as sandpaper, hard, and a snag to shake out.

He still shook out first, did Yamame’s human – as it seemed his humanly place. He blushed. He coughed. He pushed himself out from the table and fanned out his long, sleeve-sheathed arms.

“… Yamame,” he rasped.

Come here, you idiot went unsaid.

Nor did it need be otherwise. The earth spider moved as her original did – without pre-thought. She scrambled over the table and flung herself into his embrace. A misled instinct – doubtless a build-up of propriety – saw him grasp at her arms as they were thrown around him. But they were two arms and only one human. They clasped on his back, followed closely by her legs. Her nose buried in his chest.

And then, she was home.

Her human groaned. Not from pain; her body (at least she hoped) had cushioned the impact for them both. But it blew the anyway strange thoughts of home from her singing mind. For now.

“… Yamame?” he wheezed.

“Mm. Yes?”

“… You feel heavier than I remember.”

Yamame said nothing. She pressed her lips softly to the base of his neck and inhaled the smell of his skin. The absence of a spoken answer fed back sooner than she would have liked.

“… There are still things,” went on her human. “Things I was never told. What happened. What really, really happened. All I remember… All I’ve been able to remember is the forest, waiting… then a huge blast of wind, like a thunderclap, and—”

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

The response was delayed. Confused. “… Yamame?”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said once more, quieter.

She did not want to talk about it.

She did not want to recall how she had lifted her human’s numb body up from the devastated forest floor. She did not want to speak on how she had all but ripped Gensokyo’s weave (not to mention its skies) apart as she flew it toward the westering Sun. She had no wish, nor will, to remember casting her snares frantically, like a hatchling spider, all across the rousing landscape. She ill recalled the final stretch herself, once she’d struck at last what she’d sought. A touch of eternity and the scent of small prey.

She did not want to talk about how she crashed in the courtyard of the clinic in the Bamboo Forest, choking back tears and wailing (wailing!) for help.

Yamame Kurodani had no gods. That much had never changed. And yet, as she had reflected once, all the while she had faith. She believed in the predictable. The meshes between action and result. The anchors of consequence. The certainties of knowledge, gravity and time. The underpinning architecture of the world.

And so, in her faith, she had turned to the architects of the body.

And yet, she had no desire to mention – at any length – how she had been ejected from the clinic grounds no sooner than her human had been taken over by the crew. A nurse (or otherwise attendant) did emerge, hours afterwards – to find the earth spider curled, foetal, against the outer fence. The miracle-sciences of the Moon’s descended Sage would restore the human’s poison-wracked physiology, the nurse would say. The matter remaining had been the price.

Yamame’s had been a simple curse.

“Continue,” the Moon-doctor’s attendant had ordered. “To be what you are. To do what you do. My Master finds use in your existence. So… exist.”

Though there had been further words: of conditions, periods, laudation of the clinic’s master, a warning to stay away; but Yamame had only half-registered the flow of it, filing key-words away for later, while her spider’s heart wrapped itself in guilt.

Ahead too long still, the nurse had caught on to the youkai’s lethargy; she tapped the heels of her (when Yamame thought about them later) hauntingly familiar, cowhide booties, gave a wooden nod, and retreated back inside the clinic. The earth spider had spent the ensuing day and night in the self-same spot, stewing inside with regret and self-hate. Three more such nights, and the leaking fumes of her internal cookery would attract the Moon Sage’s clean-up detail.

The mother of plagues of now, Yamame Kurodani in the present, wanted to talk about none of this.

She was home.

This was the immediate state and care. The home had no floors, windows, nor roof (and no walls outside personality); but it was still, somehow, someway, her home. It was where she was rooted. She did not need a Black Valley or a Capital – new or old – anymore. All she needed was him. The heat of his body, his musky-scented skin, and the strong arms, whelmed safely about her smaller, female form.

That much was everything.

And for now, for a handful sweet moments more, it was all she ever wanted.


>> No. 16020
File 153074602160.png - (1.49MB, 773x1200, 66981179_p0.png) [iqdb]
16020


But Yamame Kurodani was a craftsman soul. And her standards only climbed higher.

An unhappy rumble murmured out of her human when she nudged that he ought to let her peel away. Two palm-spans were as far as she did; altogether not enough to fluster about. Still, it tickled her to see contrition darkening behind his wonderful eyes.

The tickle became corporeal when his odd compulsion to touch earth spiders reared its head once more. His dominant hand loosed from her back; it glided round to Yamame’s front, trailing up her flank, the side of her left breast, and the same of her neck. It cupped her cheek – warm, ink-stained, and rough as she had known it. Its thumb disengaged from its siblings. It rubbed along the earth spider’s lips.

The human owning it sighed.

Yamame could bear it no more. The nonsense melancholy set her to giggling. She sputtered her amusement under and around the finger kissing her mouth shut.

“You are a snake,” she managed to accuse her human. “Aren’t you? For all that calling me fat, why is it you can’t quit molesting my soft parts whenever they’re put inside your reach?”

“Because they feel good,” her human said, staid and sober (if still gloomy). “… Because you feel good.”

“You feel bonier,” she shot back.

That cracked his staidness. “… Yes,” he grunted. “Yes. Quite. Thanks ever-so for pointing it out.” He allowed his hand to flake from her face and re-join its mirror twin at her waist. “I was a month abed, and another three recovering. That eats away one’s reserves.”

“I’ll miss your reserves.” She said it without shame.

Her human’s chin swished side to side. “No,” he replied. “No. I’ll exercise. I’ll have to, anyway. When I start working for you again—”

“You will?”

The question startled him not least as much as it had startled its speaker.

“… Ye—Yes,” he released his answer at last. “Of… Of course. What else would I do? I’m not stacked right for accounting.”

Yamame’s tiny heart thudded in her chest.

I love him, she thought, with thunder-strike lucidity. Though it might have been the heart speaking in this instance – but it made scant any matter to its master. I love him. I love him. I really love him.

Lady Satori had been half-wrong; Yamame Kurodani had loved her human, even before entirely resolving her who. She had loved him quietly, in spider-way; she had loved how he’d facilitated her passions to bud and bloom, how he had presented her with new, exotic foods, how he had travelled every odd week to give her ever more to do: more to read, more to build, more to learn. And then she’d begun to love him for how he – the fragile human he – had stridden past the trappings of her name, her titles and reputation, and treated the youkai as what it had been under its irritable earth spider’s skin. A person. An artist. A woman.

A whit heavy one – when compared to some of her sisters – but one all the same.

She had always loved him, much as “always” could compress to limit to their acquaintance. Only later had the great architect of the Underworld finessed what the term for her emotions actually was. Where it could lead. How it could develop. Like the project of a house: spanning from the simple floor-plan, out and out, until the walls were made real and the rooms inside fully furnished.

I love him, her heart thumped stubbornly. Yamame could no more shush it than she could stop it from beating.

“… Not yet, though.”

Her human had spoken, oblivious of her inner heat. Yamame clutched at her wits.

She blew out a reply, wits evacuating together with her voice. “… What?”

Her human did not notice, or show he had. Or, perhaps, he had never reckoned wits were part of her composition.

“I am,” he explained, “I am going to work for you again, Yamame. Move back in with you, hopefully. But not yet.”

Yamame blinked. “… But I want it now,” she protested. “I want you to return with me. Today. I want to take you home.”

To make it one, she added inside. To make it smell like home. Like you. There were other reasons – some more, some less wholesome – but the earth spider staunchly refused to name them. Her human was, at any rate, impermeable to her pleas – whatever the kind.

“… Mother is right,” he sighed. “Winter is near; and pox on them, but no one in town is thick enough to start building on frozen ground, under falling snow. And I… I am not my best, yet. The doctor said to handle myself gently for a while. Being with you… Working with you is anything but.”

“I…” Yamame swallowed. No argument came back up – damningly. “… I believe.”

“Then you’ll listen to my mother?”

“Yes.” I was going to, anyway. “I will. No worries.”

Her human breathed out his relief. “Very good.”

And then, as though it were the natural thing to do, he leaned forward and kissed her.

And there it was. The circle. The familiar cadence with which her human’s conversation was cut – the rhythm of pain-pleasure-pain, and again – was manifesting. But this, too, was part of his own who. This was how he, in his human frailty, was perhaps stamping his own weaknesses. As he ever had.

The only change was, these days, the pleasure part had the pain outweighed by half.

That it was a change merited recognition. In the wings, other changes – blacker, less willing – were waiting in attendance; but Yamame Kurodani was a spider. Her mind demanded detail and focus. And so, she chose this. She chose this changed human, who would frown at her when she broke his kisses, as well when she broke his back under work. She chose him, who would nonetheless only watch when she picked one of his hands up from her waist and cradled it in her own. She chose him, who remained silent and trusting as she lightly brushed her lips on the hand’s ridgy top.

She had done far worse to him, yes… and far better. But this was ritual. This was important.

Yamame Kurodani peered up, smiling coyly as she did.


“Nice to meet you,” she said, “Naoto.”


✱✱✱ HERE ENDS Kurodani Yamame Has No Gods ✱✱✱
>> No. 16021
>>16020
Wow. Just... wow. Jolly good show, old chap. Jolly good show.

Bravo, encore, and all that. Should I buy you a drink or something?
>> No. 16023
File 153097146390.jpg - (410.63KB, 1200x900, __kurodani_yamame_touhou_drawn_by_asutora__7218a18.jpg) [iqdb]
16023
Hello, Bank of THPortugal here.

And it’s done. I thank all of you (all one or two) who made it this far. The epilogue took altogether too long to complete. I wish with all honesty I could blame this on laziness or lack of motivation, but, rather, the last month has been German suplexing my health into the ground. It’s a unique kind of wrestling match, which – uniquely – has not been choreographed this way. Certainly not by me. My bets were on the health, actually.

A few closing factoids. Kurodani Yamame Has No Gods was 1 year, 10 months running. This includes two several-month hiatuses, which were as long as they were unnecessary. It capped at 163,5k words. As far as stories go, it wasn’t too much plot-driven; while it did begin with its ending firmly set in mind, it was by all means a journey-over-destination sort of affair. This said, I did go to a bit of an effort to sprinkle little clippings of foreshadowing – or hindsight-shadowing – throughout the story. So, if you ever find yourself pining after a re-read, do look out for those.

The inspiration for this story was somewhat curious. It was a two-parted thing. The first part is the picture you see attached to this post. More or less self-explanatory. The second part was a description in a 40k book, of a Nurglite champion so “blessed” by the Plague Father, he rotted all life around him in a mile’s radius. He also constantly broke down and reconstituted in accelerated life-death cycles, of which, of course, our loving Father Nurgle is a patron.

Was the combination odd? Without doubt. Did it result a nice story in the end? I very much think so. Amusingly, I never did like Yamame a lot, and I still don’t. But getting into the mindset of a romantically-deaf, socially-blunt savant was a fun exercise.

If I had to thank anyone, I’d thank those of you who pestered me to update, dragging me out of a those two a whole god damn litter of slumps.

If you have any questions, now’s the time to give me attention! ask them. And go read Apprentice in /others/. It’s good.

I’m Bankman.
>> No. 16024
Naz when.

Nah, j/k except I'm not

But, more seriously, I wish I had something to add, but alas. I will say that I've enjoyed what I've read thus far and wish I'd gotten to the party quicker. A dunderhead 'pider is a loveable 'pider.

So there's your (You).
>> No. 16025
Well I followed this story from the first post, and I'm glad that I'm on the ride till the end. It was fun. It was cute. She's dork. The choice of words/phrases can be a bit confusiong to a non-native speaker, but otherwise, I greatly enjoyed this.

Surprised that you never used a name and/or trip though, but I hope you'll be writing something just as fun sooner or later.
>> No. 16026
Reading last posts. Comments soon (tm)
>> No. 16027
File 153121404118.png - (653.26KB, 519x1000, subtlety is not my strong suit.png) [iqdb]
16027
I lack an appropriate GIF to convey my applause, and so am forced to resort to words instead. (I did, in fact, applaud, but distance and my miserly lack of a video camera did for that.)

Well done, bravo, jolly good show, congratulations, and all of that. You have put to page (or screen) a masterpiece once again, and my reading it has brought me as much enjoyment as a chronic sufferer of depression such as myself can muster.

And yet, even now, at the end, I thirst for more. For such is the bane of a great story - that it must sometime end. So I hope - if hope my frozen heart still can - that soon this more might, in some small manner, be forthcoming. And - if I may be permitted to choose as I beg - that it might possibly be of the red persuasion, if you catch my drift.

Red-clad and red-haired, that is to say.
>> No. 16028
File 153134448116.png - (161.40KB, 685x501, yamame_hug.png) [iqdb]
16028
>>16025
>The choice of words/phrases can be a bit confusing to a non-native speaker
I’ll be the first to admit I’m overly amused by wordplay. It’s a failing of which I’m likely too old to be weaned. I just can’t let a pun go. Who knows what it’d do unchecked.
>Surprised that you never used a name and/or trip
I’ve been here since the beginning. Those who know who I am already know it; I don’t care about recognition enough to appeal to the rest.

And, frankly, tripcodes are a pain. I’d have needed to generate an amply silly one (which might take hours), keep it on all my devices, and re-paste it every time one of them decides it’s time to hit those cookies like it’s Sesame Street of ’69. If you absolutely need to name me a name, then you may refer to me as Jack of All Banks (Master of None). That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Rolls like a head off a neck.

>>16021
I’ve been abstaining for almost half a year now. Please don’t break my streak. Or anything else. I may be big and imposing, but I’m soft inside. As could more or less be seen throughout this story, I think. Glad you enjoyed it either way.

>>16027
Eloquent praise, from one so un-GIF-ted. But I’ve said this before: a huge part of Sekibanki’s appeal, to me, is that she’s an unknown. She’s uniquely stated to be recalcitrant toward both humans and youkai, and yet makes her home in the Human Village without causing trouble. She is, herself, a youkai, and yet seems to care very little for notoriety. She only attacks DDC’s heroines because of the Mallet’s influence, and goes back to a quiet hamlet life immediately afterwards. Why? What drives her? Or, more pertinently, what doesn’t? We shall never know. This is what makes her so interesting in my eyes. She’s intrigue without a resolution – a beautiful, unsolvable mystery. And I prefer she remain that way.

I also know myself, and realise I would inevitably thrust her into a romantic relationship soon or late, which is an even greater no-no. I’ve already written too much about Sekibanki as it stands. As you may have deduced from her cameo in this story, in my setting, she keeps meeting with the now-Tao-priest – to drink, exchange complaints, and indulge in other things neither of them – priest nor youkai – should by rights be indulging, especially not together. What things? Why indulge them at all? Well, these questions are part of my Sekibanki’s mystery. And I really don’t want to spoil it.

So, here’s your disappointing “Sekisorry, but no Bancan do” to that.
>> No. 16029
File 153135450336.jpg - (192.64KB, 800x800, Black Futo is literally canon.jpg) [iqdb]
16029
>>16027
>>16028

Beckynerds amiright?

Anyway, we all know he promisedhinted vaguely mentioned in passing the desire to do a Futo story next. If the hushed whispers of The Cabal are to be believed, it's gunna be titled

Futo Fucks Flandre furiously For Five Fucking Fhours

Contrary to what the title may imply, it apparently going to be rich in character development, world-building, and plot. Care to offer your thoughts on if these rumors are true?
>> No. 16030
> So, here’s your disappointing “Sekisorry, but no Bancan do” to that.

I see. Mayhap I'll do it myself, as I tried once and failed.

In any case, cheers, YAFster. If you ever need another tacnuke/head-heckling/where-are-the-updates-bankman thrown your way, you know where to find me.
>> No. 16031
File 153149939212.jpg - (33.53KB, 359x267, enough.jpg) [iqdb]
16031
>>16029
All denied. Much as I adore the dork (she’s my fifth top!), I can’t much feature Futo starring in a lead role; even in that disjointed thing I wrote years ago, she was a secondary character. If I wrote from Futo’s perspective (and let’s face it, female PoVs have, by now, become my THP thing), I would also have liked to keep her internal language themed and consistent. That’d be extremely draining in the long run.

This, together with my current health situation, I find outright daunting to think about. As I do committing to another story, period. The volume of response to this one’s ending has also been rather thin (for very understandable reasons!), so powering through by sheer peer pressure has not been an option. I know my strengths, and I know my weaknesses; pressure got me out of previous slumps (when my health was in the lows), but I’m simply, trivially not feeling it now. It’ll pass; there’ll come a time I’ll go through an entire day without having my brain jacked up and down by violent weather swings, but this month has just been awful about those. I’m not whining – simply explaining why “not now” is the bottom line.

If I had a frisky earth spider hanging over my head and absolutely had to choose a target, I’d say Kagerou, Minoriko or Nazrin would be the likeliest. No solid ideas, and I never start writing without those set in mind, but here you go. I’ve also been… entertaining ideas for Yamame porn, but the same applies. The home board for that is also deader than Mima. And me – I’m just un-arse-able right now.
>> No. 16032
File 153153764446.png - (16.04KB, 806x518, [Caption redacted].png) [iqdb]
16032
>>16031

Well...I'd like like to personally thank you for both writing and finishing this. Good luck with those feels, and I'll catch ya on the flip my dude.
>> No. 16034
File 153169011030.png - (1.01MB, 1140x705, __hakurei_reimu_and_imaizumi_kagerou_touhou_drawn_.png) [iqdb]
16034
I'm quite pleased this ended on a good note, yet disappointed there couldn't be more. That is the thing about endings isn't it?

I think you've set the gold standard for characterization when it comes to Yamame. I've never seen it done better. Her thoughts and interactions with Paran were consistently entertaining and interesting.

I think that could also apply to your writing of youkai in general. You do a real good job of writing them as distinct from humans without venturing into the realm of cliche. It's really enjoyable to read.

I do hope you'll feel up to writing some more in the future. I would be interested in something about Kagerou if you go that route. I like her character design but I've never read anything where she was a central figure. Also I find myself more interested in the youkai that live in the human village and what potential issues might arise from that.
>> No. 16335
File 154302361869.jpg - (851.29KB, 1200x1200, 71162469_p0.jpg) [iqdb]
16335
Kurodani Yamame Has a Lewd Sequel… Short… Thing. Not to mention a shameless bump.

>>/at/39522
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