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File 154457098052.jpg - (133.62KB, 800x800, The Most Despicable and Disastrous.jpg) [iqdb]
16408 No. 16408
With a current vote of

[0] MORE business. It’s time to start talking with money-makers.
[2] Meeting up with Yuugi again.
[3] Fuck. Just relax with Koishi for the rest of the day. Fuck, man.

Thread 1 >>16139

Still voting phase
15posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>> No. 16424
>>16423
[x] already have.”
---- [x] (lie)
---- [x] (truth)
"You think seals like these actually worked? Oh I know they kept me from cursing you all personally, but let me tell you a secret, My nature as a god is to invite in disaster no matter the circumstances, so all these wards accomplished was to make it hard for me to curse you all personally. All ready my nature is inviting in disaster of the most calamitous kind upon the "family" that keeps me. To be honest at this point id rather you keep me here so that i can witness your inevitable destruction first hand"
>> No. 16425
“I—
[x] won’t. Not yet.”
---- [x] (truth)
>> No. 16432
[X] absolutely will.” (use the coin)
>> No. 16433
(X) already have.”
---- (X) [lie]

Speech checks, here I go.
>> No. 16436
File 154639410064.png - (1.84MB, 1600x1600, runs in the family.png) [iqdb]
16436
[X] “I already have.”

With completely dishonest words.

She smiles wide at this. She reaches for the door of my cage. I gave her an excuse, but—

I’m not going to waste my misfortune on her, Not yet.

The bars creak as she drags them open. I drag my body up through the filth of the ground, reaching into my sweater’s pockets: slipping the coin into a hole in the lining. I speak too, telling her: “You knew, right? That I can’t help cursing anyone around me, including myself.” She walks toward me, rolling her neck. I show my teeth a little in a halfway smile. “But I’ll admit: this one was on purPO—”

The words are cut from by mouth when she grabs the front of my sweater and jerks me toward her. I squint at her, keeping my misfortune in check,

She pulls back her free hand, and throws it at my face.

“Ugh!”

Ouch!

She drops me and I grab my already-swelling face. It hurts... It’s radiating...

But it’s fine...

“Wanna know how I cursed you...?” I mutter, my voice quaking. “I did it special... just keep an eye ou—oofph.”

My insides tighten, and my guts and parts are searing hot. She kicked the toe of her boot into my stomach. I hold my bladder back, and tears start falling out of my eyes while I squeeze my shaking mouth shut. Speckling the floor. I claw the ground.

It’s fine...

Pff—whuh...!”

This is all fine.

“Mmg—! Guh! Hahh! Hah!

I want her to worry.

Worry worry worry, little demon.

You said it yourself: somebody’s out there and gunning for you.

Beat me all you want...

“...” I go silent against the other wall. She steps near me and drags her boot back while touching her knuckles.

It’s way more satisfying to think you’ll fall apart without me doing a single thing.

“Go ahead...!” I shout, laughing too. I look her dead in the eye. “Just don’t be surprised when it all burns dow—!”

Bfsh.

...
>> No. 16437
File 154639416157.jpg - (22.13KB, 1300x1500, -.jpg) [iqdb]
16437
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>> No. 16438
File 154639432056.jpg - (263.94KB, 1137x1395, street watchin.jpg) [iqdb]
16438
[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=F9u2lxr0oDY ]
[Froze the Atlantic - Feeelings (Light Club)]

So, a funny thing happened.

“Yorigamiii, hey!”

“Yo.”

Ever since I burned down the Kurode base, faith in me skyrocketed.

“Hi Joon.”

“Hmph. C’mere.”

I was thinking the more shit I did, the more recognition I’d garner. The faith game’s kinda nebulous to me... before all this, I used to exploit it for high, quick gains. I didn’t think about the effect my disappearing after doing a bunch of shit would have.


Summer.



The eighth month.



In the Noble District—The Ibaraki Quarter.



Rumors went nuts.

A mix of fear and respect followed in the wake of all my actions. I was the sudden god who’d, in a period of two days, become a new star of the ring, beaten down a known thug, spread money like it was nothing, and ended my twisted rampage with an entire building razed—one that belonged to yakuza. People couldn’t read me, so they started making shit up. As they did, everything about me grew much stronger, and in a month everyone knew the name “Yorigami”.

Now I’m in the Ibaraki Quarter, where I bought a place two months back and have been operating outta since. Koishi, who’s right next to me as usual, still hasn’t opened her third eye. I feel bad about it, seriously... but she says it’s fine. We’re focused right now. Focused on finding Sis.

She’s been making me more money than I know what to do with, too. She started gambling more often: on me, on whatever, and she’s just made a killing. She doesn’t really spend it either. It’s like every day I come back to overstuffed coffers. I think, when I’m ready... I’m gonna burn most of it. Security is “nice” and all, but I really don’t need all that much.

Some shit to note since my arson job happened:


* The Kurode went silent for a while. They started operations back up a while after, and started looking into who I was. Right now, I don’t know what they’re planning, but if it’s not revenge I’ll be fuckin’ stunned.


* I still don’t have a name or place for the group I think took Sis. Since I’ve grown more famous, especially for attacking a slave ring, people don’t want to tell me shit. I know it’s in the Ibaraki Quarter, and that’s all I know. Even though I’ve gotten more involved with fighting and gambling, even though I’ve started shaking hands with adult services, I still ain’t even a bit closer to them. I’ve been more pissed off about that lately instead of how pissed I tend to be over my lack of strength.


* And: Yuugi came after me last month for neglecting training.


I’d say all in all it’s not great, just okay. Trying to find things out has basically been a crapshoot, but because I was low-key for so long my spiritual power is higher than I’d even figured was possible. That’s nice, I feel like I’ve wasted time. By this point, is Shion even still unsold? I’m assuming she was unsold in the first place... If she got a master, that just fucks things up for me further.

Today I’m out in one of my other outfits while Koishi’s clinging to me and telling me what she could figure out last night about everything going on. It’s not much, but I’m not complaining—not about what she can or can’t do. That said, we gotta do stuff differently. Right now I have Koishi sneaking through places and trying to catch useful whispers. Satori’s also tried helping out, but she’s too conspicuous most of the time. People just fuck off if she’s around. As for me, I’ve been exercising influence. Too bad I’ve allied with too many good-hearted types. That’s why my way “in” to the slavery racket is blocked. Seriously: nobody’s talking. I thought by fighting and getting respect, I’d just stumble on answers eventually by merit of being so well-known and badass but... no, it hasn’t been like that at all.

Agh... what the fuck do I do?

... Maybe—


[] Get your hands dirty.


The most I’ve done has been working with host and hostess clubs, and a few titty bars. Maybe if I looked into prostitution, it could lead to slavery...? Problem is, everyone already knows how I feel about slavery, or assumes they know. The rumor’s that I’m basically a crusader... But on the bright side, it’s only a rumor: a belief. It’s possible for me to change that perception, and alter the view of my actions against the Black Hand. I told their top guy that I was after the gods, but he’s the only one who knows that, and he’s not talking about what happened that day.


[] Work with the old and influential.


In other words, talk with Yuugi and Yamame about all this. I haven’t yet, mostly ‘cause of pride and the feeling I’ve burdened those two enough already. Yuugi I’m pretty sure wouldn’t want to help me because she’d prefer I fight on my own. I might be able to convince her, though, since this is about family... Yamame, she’d help, but how helpful she’d be is another question. I don’t see her knowing much about slavery down here. On that note, Yuugi’s probably not good about figuring things out. If I do get her help, she might not be helpful at all. Mmmgghh... I dunno about this option. Almost feels “last resort”.


[] Change approach.


I’ve been roundabout all this time—talking to other people or having Koishi listen in. I haven’t been direct so far—haven’t really broken bread with people in the Ibaraki Quarter—because the rumors around me are just that: rumors. Keeping it that way gives me wiggle room and leeway in the Underground. Only a few people know what I want to do down here. Fewer have a solid idea on my plans. Most are assuming, and cautious. Maybe I can lower caution by just being my friendly, charming, poverty god self. Basically like... a more subtle take on my first choice. Wading in instead of diving in.


To be honest, I’m not confident about any of this. I just know something has to change and it’s been too long. My blood is boiling because my blood is out there and still not safe. No more waiting. I have to finish this.

++++++++

>>16436
forgot
image source: https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=67403251
>> No. 16439
>>16438
[X] Get your hands dirty.
A god so evil she will sell her own kind to slavery, just for money.
>> No. 16440
[X] Change approach.
>> No. 16441
[X] Work with the old and influential.

Weird how one that complains about being weak neglects training. That said, your pride is not as important as your sis. If you end up indebted to them for life, then so be it.

Wish we could just throw money at the problem though.
>> No. 16442
[x] Work with the old and influential.
>> No. 16443
>>16441
>Weird how one that complains about being weak neglects training.
I think the thing is she did a head in the sand approach. Ignore the biggest concern
>> No. 16445
File 154747597710.jpg - (353.92KB, 1250x800, wisdom delivery.jpg) [iqdb]
16445
[X] Work with the old and influential.


Fuck it.

I squeeze Koishi’s hand in mine. She looks at me.

No holding back. I’m going all in.


[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj5yr0Xuk1s ]
[Hydrogen - MOON (M.O.O.N.)]


On another day, in the same place.




An unfamiliar sight walks into a ladies bar.




3 AM.



The Underground has a currency: in paper bills and copper coins. It’s arbitrary. “Value” ultimately adds up to “strength” in a land of oni, and anything before that is just formality. Yorigami Joon took stock in both kinds, She only ever needed one, and with as much as she has, her implicit influence is far beyond any other’s.

A fair giant walks through flush pink curtains, casting a hidden gaze around a packed room. It’s hidden by a large hood, leaving the top of her face in shadow. Her head is not concealed, however. Like any oni: disguise isn’t her greatest skill, and her crimson horn extends prominently out from the dark cloth. It’s emblazoned with one half of her name, gold and shining whenever the lights of the clubroom catch it. She isn’t noticed at first, but that glinting star eventually finds enough eyes to start more than a few murmurs—murmurs she either does not pay attention to, or does not notice.

She walks to the bar, plucking at a loose thread of her hoodie.

“Bartender,” she says directly to the spider at the counter, dropping her heavy hand on the top and shaking every drink upon it, “give me a girl.”

And were it not for the music, the room would have fallen silent.

“Y—” the man behind the bar starts, his face having gone pale, “Ho... Ah... What... sort of girl... Miss Customer?”

“I want a god,” she says, and the bartender’s face turns monochrome.

“W-We don’t have anything like that...!” he insists, slightly leaning forward. “And even if we did, we don—don’t give girls! This isn’t that kind of place.”

“Huh,” the customer slumps her shoulders, turns, and reaches over the countertop, “take me to a place that is.”

She grabs the bartender by his collar, and pulls him across the top, crashing glass and sake.

Now she notices the crowd watching her. Holding the man like a coat behind her shoulder, her red eyes glint as she scans the sea of people, seeking whichever are willing to fight, and finding none. She turns her eyes to the exit and asks, “You do know, right?”

But the man has become petrified and won’t answer. The curtains open as she’s looking at them, and in walks an oni her size. He looks at his sovereign, swallows, and steps to block the door. At once, a smile crawls up Hoshiguma Yuugi’s face. The beat of the music fades to a pulse.

And the newcomer speaks up: “Hoshiguma, sis... There... something wrong? What... What are you planning?”


[] Be straight.

[] No talking, let’s just fight.

[] ... Wait, actually, what? What plan? There ain’t no plan.


In another place, at the same time.




Somewhere cold and quiet.




It total, 34 legs.




They don’t usually show them, but earth spiders have as many limbs as you’d expect from the name. Most of the time, you’ll only see brief flashes while they prop up buildings in the middle of the night. Right now, everyone’s got them out, though. Coming out their backs, six extra legs each—thick, carapaced. Guess the “arms” don’t count.

I’m sitting down on a boulder and smoking again. I’ve really gotta stop, but isn’t it cool? The way smoke and distant city light mix. I stand and crush the cigarette to ash in my hand, briefly looking back at the Former Capital. Yuugi said she’d do “something”, and said “don’t worry”. I’m not worried about her, I’m worried about how good or bad this is gonna be for the whole thing. There’s no doubt in my mind: my girl is gonna flip the town over tonight. The problem is whether the roaches will scatter while she looks. I swore it two days ago: this is the last push. That’s why I’m here now. Yamame’s helped me out, too.

“So you can’t just get her to talk?” I ask, waving ash out of my hand while stepping toward Yamame and one of her pals. “Can’t you make diseases? Make hyoscine.”

“I don’t know what that is, girl,” she says. Psh.

“Pfsh,” I breathe out. Her other friend stands up from tying the remaining spider to a chair. “She isn’t even awake,” I tell them.

The spider who bound her coworker tells me, “Yamame made her fall asleep. We didn’t want to fight.”

I look at Yamame, who looks at her sisters before looking at me. “Just shake her a bit and she’ll wake up. But for the thousandth time, I can’t make her talk. All we know is what we know.”

“I know, thanks.” I hold the tip of my ring finger, thinking things over. “... You can’t get her to talk, but you’re sure she knows the details?”

“She probably doesn’t know where it is—when she was bragging forty-seven years ago she said they always blindfolded her before taking her to the job site, set up illusions and barriers a good distance around, and only let her survey the immediate area for work,” the girl next to Yamame explains. “But yes, she’s the only one who’s done below-below-ground contract work for the Former Capital in the last fifty years, and it wasn’t on any books. When we asked her about it yesterday, even those of us who’ve been especially close to her, she said she never had. She’s been mum about it for thirty years, apparently. She’s lying.”

Now I touch my forehead, start sliding my fingers into my hair. I sigh through my nose and say, “One of your sisters... Do you at least know if she was in on it?”

“She’s been maintaining it,” Yamame says, and I look over at her, “consistently, and secretly. I don’t exactly monitor my sisters, but we all have our eyes everywhere.” Yamame scratches her head, not looking in my eyes and wincing. “She’s complicit.”

Oh, well...

I walk to the grandma chair that this girl is seated in, fast asleep and wrapped in webs. Her hair is red and she seems like any normal, nice-looking youkai of the modern age. She’s in her night gown, and it looks like her weird-ass legs came out when Yamame drugged her.

“...”


[] Alright, just talk... persuasively. Money talks, and it’s better with a silver tongue.

[] Threaten her for the floor plans. Don’t hurt her, just make her think she’ll get hurt. Not just physically.

[] Torture this youkai for info. This isn’t the time for pussyfooting.

++++++++

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1541680
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1374105
>> No. 16446
[x] No talking, let’s just fight.

[x] Threaten her for the floor plans. Don’t hurt her, just make her think she’ll get hurt. Not just physically.
>> No. 16447
>>16445
[X] ... Wait, actually, what? What plan? There ain’t no plan.
[X] Alright, just talk... persuasively. Money talks, and it’s better with a silver tongue.

Money is not an objection when you are rescuing a poverty goddess.
>> No. 16448
[X] ... Wait, actually, what? What plan? There ain’t no plan.
[X] Alright, just talk... persuasively. Money talks, and it’s better with a silver tongue.
>> No. 16449
[X] Be straight.
[X] Alright, just talk... persuasively. Money talks, and it’s better with a silver tongue.

Let's try this.
>> No. 16451
File 154795427097.jpg - (283.64KB, 795x982, ONI.jpg) [iqdb]
16451
[X] ... Wait, actually, what? What plan? There ain’t no plan.
[X] Alright, just talk... persuasively. Money talks, and it’s better with a silver tongue.


[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3lpoGABH6A ]
[Andromeda - Near Dark (DANCE WITH THE DEAD)]

I lift my right hand and push my thumb against her forehead. Her eyebrows knit and she opens her eyes slowly, waking up.

“Hey there,” I greet her while she gathers where she is, and who’s around. I get a feel of her anxiety, and make a gesture—holding my palm to the side and aloft. “I’m Yorigami Joon,” I tell her, “and it sounds to me like you know some things I need to know.”


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Hoshiguma.


Still holding the bartender over her back, the Greater Oni slams the youth down to the ground outside the building. The earth quakes and splits, and his chest threatens to give way as well. Crowds cheer at first—always happy to see a fight—until they see the instigator: Hoshiguma Yuugi, going wild in their private slice of Hell.

“I recognize you!” she yells joyfully, her golden locks falling almost slowly from her sudden launch at the man. He swallows, almost afraid. “If it isn’t Seiyou! What are you thinking anyways, getting in my way tonight?” She smiles, happy, and tells him, “I’ll kill you.”

“S-Sovereign Hoshiguma, hold up!” He throws his hands to the forearm pushing against his body and begins to try moving it off of himself. It doesn’t budge, and Yuugi’s smile turns pitying. “Listen!” he yells. “I just wanna know why you’re here! Why you’re asking what you’re asking!”

“How the Hell do you know what I’ve been asking? It’s the first time I see you tonight,” Yuugi notes, rather incredulous. She leans toward his face, grinning now and pressing his ribcage more. “Big, stupid idea: an oni trying to keep secrets and play quiet.” She lifts her fist without warning and crushes it down into the boy’s body, a geyser of earth firing up from the blow. His eyes go wild, his insides pulse. As sand falls back down, Hoshiguma Yuugi swaggers off of the pained oni beneath her and explains her purpose, and her lack of plan:

“I haven’t got a single plot in my head. A friend wants my help, Boy, and I’m an oni, so I’m gonna give it.”


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Yorigami.


“However much you want and more,” I tell her, lightly slapping bills across her cheek while I’m squatting down before her, “and I’ll even make your problems go away once you tell me. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?”

“... It—” she says, looking defiant, but she stops. We all flinch. Throughout all the caves of the Underground, it sounds like a bomb’s gone off. We all look to the source, and way in the distance see an earth-colored spike jutting out toward the ceiling, collapsing as soon as we catch sight of it. Uh oh; I’m worried.

Frowning, bothered, I look at her again. It’s going fine, but I’m getting tense now. Cool it, Joon. “Just say yes,” I tell her, “I’m not here to fucking take this slow. I didn’t get you grabbed because I wanted to tiptoe this shit. Let me play nice, tell me, and we can all fucking get on with it.”

“... Is that it? Did one of your kin get enslaved?” she asks me, kind of leaning my way. I grimace, biting down on the inside of my cheek.

“Hey, hey, this is my interrogation. Answer me, don’t ask me.”

The entire Underground shakes and the spiders around me all start looking around worriedly. Then there’s another explosive sound. I clench my fist. Yuugi, god damn it...

“Y-You’re not going to hurt me? She’s not gonna hurt me, Yamame, sis?” She looks past my shoulder, so do I.

Yamame has her arms crossed and she’s looking like her thoughts are somewhere else. Still, she meets our eyes and answers, “She should.”

Hmph, heh.

I rub a bit slow at my chin, smiling. Without looking her way I tell her, “Don’t worry, I personally don’t totally spit in the face of a good ol’ exploitative business venture. I’m not keen on ‘slaves’, but... Hey, profit is profit right? And you’ve profited nice.” I grin, and look her way now, seeing the fear in her eyes. “Just help me out, this isn’t a threat.” I stand up. “If you don’t tell me, you just don’t get the money or any of my help should shit go south after this.” Looking toward where I think Yuugi’s wreaking havoc, I end with this: “I’m going to get in there and get what I want one way or another. This is just more guarantee for me.”

She gulps, and I look her way again. I flash the cash again. It’s half my fortune. The other half...

“... So?” I jab at her one more time with the question. “Do you want to make some money or not?”


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 ░▓░▒▓▒▒▓ ▓


Hoshiguma.


Yuugi laughs uproariously after punting her fellow oni up to the top of the Underground, crying out as he falls: “Amazing, amazing! You’re like a punching bag—this is super fun!”

Before he collapses back to the street, he stops himself with flight and feels over his body. He sees that he isn’t going to die—that nothing yet is broken. Hoshiguma Yuugi hasn’t gotten angry with him; her assault is purely for the thrill of it.

But he’s figured this much out: as his Sovereign has no plan... what she wishes to do instead is flip the Quarter onto its head.

Yuugi meets him in the sky and presents him with the bartender she’s been carrying. With her teeth shining still in a smile while he awkwardly grabs the spider, she winds up her arm once again, and socks him across the chin and down to the earth.

“WOO YEAH!! LISTEN UP, IBARAKI BASTARDS!!” she yells as the boy and his charge descend, her voice rumbling the air. She throws her arms out and bellows, “YUUGI OF THE HOSHIGUMA IS ON A RAMPAGE TONIGHT!!!”

She roars out in eagerness, her mirth choking the atmosphere, and the population below pales. The oni she was thrashing meets the ground terribly, his right arm limp from the impact, and he gazes at his superior in full terror. Getting onto his left leg, he feels that his right has broken, and he can no longer carry the (now unconscious) spider he was given. I have to tell Boss Kobari..., he thinks.

Seiyou drags his body up into flight, and makes his way under a “sky” of dark red clouds amassing and flashing with purple light. Lightning strikes the bars and homes and hovels, crashing through and tearing them asunder. It feels seismic: wrathful mother nature manifested through strange and indiscriminate power. Everyone runs and flies, debris litters the road and he flies. Through the panic—fast—and away from the woman now crashed back down to earth, laughing again, and reaching for the back of his neck.


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Yorigami.


She’s what?

I look over to the city while folding the notes and blueprints Yamame and them made into my bag. I definitely heard Yuugi just now, and some weird shit is hanging over where the spike was before. While she’s untying the girl we captured, Yamame tells me, “You know, Yuugi is one of the most raw examples of ‘oni’ you can find.”

I turn my gaze onto her and say, “... What’s that supposed to mean?”

“That means ‘no limits’ and ‘you’d better hurry up, Joon’,” she says, and finished untying her fellow youkai she hits the girl on her head with a strike of the knuckles. She looks miserable, but sighs with relief.

Yuugi... What the hell is she thinking—well, she’s probably not thinking at all, right?

I still don’t know where Sis is. I only know what I’ll find when I get there. I left it up to Yuugi to find the actual place...

Now I’m worried she’s going to fuck that place up, maybe even fuck up the captive gods on the way. And there’s no telling they’ll even stay. They’re on high alert since the fire in Old Old Hell...

I pinch my nose bridge, grit my teeth. I glare at the impossible dark clouds hanging over the Ibaraki Quarter.

I’ve gotta make a move.


[] Stop Yuugi.

[] Try to find Shion.

++++++++

Good job, guys.

image source: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/1105366
>> No. 16452
[x] Try to find Shion.
>> No. 16453
[X] Try to find Shion.


Stop Yuugi? As if!
>> No. 16454
[x] Try to find Shion.

When a storm's rampaging you take advantage of it, not try to stop it.
>> No. 16455
[X] Try to find Shion.
>> No. 16456
[X] Try to find Shion.
>> No. 16457
>>16451
[X] Try to find Shion.
Trying to stop the rampaging impossible phenomenon is foolishnes of the highest order.
>> No. 16458
File 154850880112.jpg - (903.56KB, 1500x987, one half.jpg) [iqdb]
16458
[X] Try to find Shion.


[ ♫: https://youtu.be/zzCq2MaA1hE ]
[Acid Spit - 198Xad (Mega Drive)]

“Thanks for everything, Yamame,” I tell her, cracking my knuckles. I feel her eyes on me, and say, “I’m gonna go find my sister.”

“Would it be fitting for me to say ‘give em Heaven’?”

I laugh, just a bit, and tell her, “Well... I am a god aren’t I?”

I throw my bag into the distance, and disappear.


After bounding through the air enough, I find myself above the Ibaraki Quarter in a minute, with Hoshiguma raging ecstatically throughout it. She looks like a bull... like a stampede of bulls, even if there’s just one of her. There’s an earth-fog following her rampage, and only a few people are bothering to try to face her. I feel an impulse to get down there and tell her to slow her roll, but I stifle it. I look up at her storm clouds of violet and red, frowning... First rule of a “bad man”: when there’s a disaster, take advantage. I dash down to land on a pagoda and survey the land.

What I’m looking for—feeling for—are signs of divinity and broken barriers. Yuugi’s wrecked liked a third of this place by now, and there are youkai all over scared shitless or fleeing. It might also help... to keep a look out for people who are fleeing in instead of out. When a Deva like Yuugi is going off, the only options are getting the hell away or, if you’re like a lot of oni, taking the chance to fight her—and losing, duh. But not leaving and not fighting... that’d mean there’s something to protect. Or, what I’m looking for: something you were hiding...

... But nothing’s seeming off, not from what I can see here. I pick up my head. It’s a big part of the capital, and Yuugi keeps destroying swathes of it, laughing like a maniac. I should look somewhere el—

Fwack!!” I swear, backing up off of the tower, dodging a short building flying at it in a blink. I shoot my gaze left while it collapses: Yuugi is in the process of trying to lift another shop, and I can see the ground shuddering beneath her. For fuckin’ fuck’s sake... This oni’s goddamn crazy!

I fly away, flinching when I hear an explosion against the ceiling. Glancing back, it looks like that’s where she through the place, and now great spikes are falling. God damn... God damn! While I’m freaking out, freak lighting arcs past me and I remember her storm again. This is a fucking mess!

In another, untouched part of the city (for now), I look and find a crowd of oni getting hyped at the thought of Yuugi coming at them. More people are heading into the last Quarter next to Ibaraki’s, but I don’t see anyone desperate to hide anything. There’s nothing supernatural in the air, either—nothing distinctly supernatural I mean. I look for a while. Not here—?

I shudder as a jolt of fear runs through me, then I hear a blast like a volcano’s erupted.

“HEEERE COMES THE ONI!!!”

Yuugi!! I turn and see her with her arms over her head, shouting with pure joy and exhilaration. The crowd I spotted earlier rushes her, and she starts a brawl. I decide to leg it—bounce—get the hell to the final third of the Quarter.

Like before there’s nothing I can find when I stop to look, nothing weird I mean. I drop down to the streets, frantic, realizing now hard my heart is beating. I feel like this is my last chance. I feel like I fucked up. Where is she!? Not even thinking about it, I shout out, “Sis!!”

But of course I’m not gonna get an answer. No one even looks at me...

And just like that, cold starts flowing through my veins. Was she never even here? Th-There’s no way right?

“Shion...” I whisper. “Yorigami Shion!” I yell this time. I grit my teeth, and start throwing open curtains, kicking down doors. Now people are looking at me—looking at the fire at my back. This is bullshit. I have to find her. I have to!

A few youkai are stopped, looking at me losing it. I glare at them and demand to know, “Where are the gods!?”

They run off, my shoulders drop and my chest feels like ice. I put my hand on my head, eyes wide.

There’s no way...

There’s just no way I fucked up.

There’s a small earthquake beneath my feet. I stare down at the pebbles and dust vibrating, and a hand falls slowly onto my shoulder.

“Tiny god...” I hear, “did you find her?”

I turn around to look at Yuugi and the destruction behind her, and I can feel my pupils shaking.

She tilts her head and frowns, her eyebrows sloping in worry. “No good?” she asks.

I turn my eyes to the ground.

I can’t blame her... I just... I don’t know. I don’t know if I should give up or—

Nah. No, I’ve decided.

I meet Yuugi’s eyes. I tell her, “Tear this place apart. I’m finding my sister tonight.”

My shoulders are wrapped in fire. Yuugi smiles proudly, telling me, “Sure, with pleasure.”

We step past each other, Yuugi stomping her foot into the earth, making it wave.

She has to be here, and I’m not giving up.

~~

[♫]

In an hour, most of the Ibaraki Quarter’s been made into ruins.

It’s nothing spiders can’t fix fast... but it looks like a typhoon and a tornado rolled through. I guess they sort of did, all in one.

I’m sitting on the pagoda that fell before. There’s nobody here but me: not an oni, not Hoshiguma, not Koishi, not Shion, just me. I didn’t find her, and... I don’t usually think like this—like thinking the worst—but I get the feeling... Yuugi...

They say twins have a connection, like they feel what each other feel and can tell what the other is thinking. They can tell if one of them dies. It isn’t true. I don’t know anything. I don’t know if she’s alive, I’m just worried she isn’t.

Wouldn’t it be just like me... to’ve killed her, when I was trying to save her? Wouldn’t that be definitive “Yorigami Joon”?

I don’t know...

Rocks and debris tumble off the building below me, the sound rattling my body and I’m like... I’m really struggling to keep it together here. I’ve gotten used to having Koishi show up at times like these and putting her hand on my back, but since I had Yuugi involved I wanted her to stay back this time. I didn’t want her to get hurt, funny enough...

It’s not funny... Is my sister dead...?

I push my hand into my face.

No one’s gonna tell me “yes” or “no”.

“Hope”, huh...?

...

I hear Yuugi walking toward me.

... “Hope” is a stupid thing. Just baseless, wish-like belief.

I stand up and think: I want to hope, just one more time. A gust of smoke-scented air blows past us, tossing our hair. Yuugi puts her hand on her hip, looking down at me without any expression.

... Let’s try one last thing, when the Sun rises outside.


~~
>> No. 16460
File 154850906241.jpg - (680.55KB, 1447x1020, declaration.jpg) [iqdb]
16460
>>16458
image source:
https://www.pixiv.net/member_illust.php?mode=medium&illust_id=72832262

++++++++

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe1wA1hAdd0 ]
[Looking for Tracy Tzu - TRILOGY (Carpenter Brut)]


6:40 in the morning.



In the broken city, being rebuilt.



A bridge overlooking paradise.




Koishi breathes out like she’s cold. I guess it’s not as hot as the season down here, at this hour. She’s holding a big silver suitcase in her arms, and standing behind me, a little to my left.

I drop the cigarette I was smoking down into the rubble. I’m leaning on the rail of a red bridge, watching spiders and other youkai go to work repairing everything in the dark. People got hurt. Of course they got hurt. Yuugi’s back in her home, not being blamed for anything. She didn’t give any reason for what she did. That’s why I’m here now: to make everything sure.

I turn my head a little to talk to her—Koishi. “Y’know, I was born in Kamagasaki.”

“Where’s that?”

“Japan,” I tell her, “in Osaka.”

“I’ve heard of Osaka,” she says, smiling.

“Osaka’s cool...” I touch the jewel on one of my rings, “Kamagasaki, though—no, was it Airin-chiku now? Hah... What a shithole.”

She doesn’t say anything to that.

“... It wasn’t something story-like, like just me and Sis, but the parents we had couldn’t do much. To be honest, we were scumbags.” She keeps listening and I keep talking. “As soon as we could figure out how, we were stealing and scamming. We had a good thing going. So good, it felt good playing around. When we could save our parents, we didn’t, and we laughed. That’s who we were. We saw their squalor—our squalor, and we just bought diamond rings, kicking them into gutters for the hell of it.

“We ruined lives,” I say, and I’m proud of it. “People hated us, and loved us. Sis, she just had the best way to destroy other people, almost without even trying. Everyone called her cursed. And me, I had the best way of charming people. I’d get in their good graces—make them feel alive for two minutes, then leave them on the streets begging. Through every crisis, through every riot, we reigned. We tiptoed on the line of poverty and extravagance, and loved it... loved ea—... just, not ever saying it.

“And we became gods.” I finish with that. “Felt like it was the best thing that ever happened to us, even with how it left Shion. But with how it left her... I eventually got tired of her. Shion... Sis... isn’t like me.” I grip at the back of my hand. “I left the only person I never wanted to, just ‘cause she put me in a bad mood one day. I can make excuses... but that’s the one thing I can’t forgive myself for. I’ve burned both of my parents... but my sister is the only one where it always felt unthinkable. She’s a part of me, like it or not... She’s the one person I’ve always loved.”

The wind of Old Hell whispers over us, toward the fallen buildings, and I say, “When we find her... don’t tell her I said that.” I smirk. “Give me the suitcase.”

She does. She asks me, “What are you going to do with that...? It’s everything...”

“Yep.” I hold it in both of my hands, turning back to the city, standing it on the railing. “They need to know this wasn’t a whim.” I open the top latches. “They need to know I’m looking for her.”

The suitcase swings open, and the wind catches what’s inside of it. I hold out my left hand, fire burning at the tips. Cash catches fire, and dollar bills start flowing into the air like dancing leaves. Everything spreads out, carried by the churning currents of the Underground. The shops are almost obscured, fire falls like rain. Glinting, everywhere, and evened out. Soon, the city’s covered by a vast curtain of dying flame and burning money, to send a clear and golden message:

The last time the Underground glowed like it had another Sun, it was the golden god’s doing. It was Yorigami Joon, who had it out for a slavery ring. That’s here too, and I want you to know the rumors weren’t only that.

“See the hell I made of a place that thought it couldn’t see worse?” I announce in a level voice, watching my fortune fade into ash, watching the people of the Ibaraki Quarter stare on bewildered at the sight of such a waste. “I’m not tiptoeing anymore. This is what I want to say:

“I’m done with it all, I know you’re here, and I’m going to fucking ruin you.”

Divinity and disaster mix across the broken streets and homes.

Who’s looking on at it with a worried face?

That’s who I’m going to find first, and follow.

Him?

Her?

Them?

No... him.

The boy who’s half broken and gritting his teeth at the new, sunlight sky.

The one down near a crumbling well.

“Koishi,” I talk to my girlfriend (who’d wandered to my side), and she perks up and takes her eyes from the glittering spectacle out what seems a mile now away from us, “that guy, tail him. Don’t let him see you.”

She nods, and starts to fade from my consciousness but— “Wait,” I say, “when we do this...”

I wince, gripping the suitcase’s handle.


[] “... make sure I don’t lose myself.”

[] I shake my head. “Never mind. Forget it.”
>> No. 16461
[x] “... make sure I don’t lose myself.”
>> No. 16462
[x] I shake my head. “Never mind. Forget it.”
>> No. 16463
[x] “... make sure I don’t lose myself.”
>> No. 16464
>>16460
[X] “... make sure I don’t lose myself.”
>> No. 16466
File 154911096852.gif - (3.73MB, 656x598, burn blaze fire.gif) [iqdb]
16466
>.gif

++++++++

[X] “... make sure I don’t lose myself.”

“... Okay.”

I harden up, chew the inside of my bottom lip.

I’m ready,


~~


Elsewhere.

Elsewhen.



IIn truth, their first place was compromised.

Seeing that their part of the district was seemingly lost, word got out and they all managed to get away.

They moved base to a copy building in caves lesser known, while Hoshiguma destroyed where they’d been hiding all along.

Now they celebrate...

Having avoided the worst.

A blind satori stands unseen outside their doors, a god reaching out past her shoulder—

[ ♫: http://youtube.com/watch/?v=YOwSrPzT8qg ]
And the doors fire open.


  ▓▓▒▓  ░▒▓▒  ░░ ▓▒░  ▓▓▒ ▒ ▓ ▒░ ▓ ▓ ▓▒░▒▓

Gold. Flame. Lights.

Wood splinters and burns off my knuckles.

Koishi hid me until this moment, and with sounds of a fiery song beating fast through the air, I slip past her into a storm of tinted rays.

The guy who was on watch flinches at the chaos, I rush in taking a count of the eighteen or so people in there and start flashing toward one. In three—

I stop in front of the first horned girl I could see.

In two—

She realizes, and throws a punch.

In one—... I flicker out its way—

Bring up my left hand and throw it to her neck—

Push her into the wood flooring, breaking it apart.

I make a fist, and bring it down in an instant on her teeth. With spit flying over my fingers, I ask the only thing I want to know:

“Where the fuck is my sister!?”

... It turned out Yuugi made too much of a mess. When Koishi said she found this place, apparently they were talking about having hoped it wasn’t me; how they were glad they’d had a plan for me in this sorta worst case. Picked too early to celebrate, but you know oni: too impulsive, and not the best with secrets.

Now I’m here, and I studied their backup floorplans from the spider too.

Everyone’s starting to realize what’s going on, though they were having a good time ten seconds ago. The things I need from these guys are “keys”: real ones to cages in the basement, and ones in theory—the ways to take down the seals and barriers. And yeah, I know where the cells are... but not Shion. Thinking, I grasp the oni’s collar from under me and pull her nearer to my face. She’s not bleeding, but it looks like that punch with my rings made her teeth ache.

“My face look familiar?” I ask while spotlights switch across it, hardly piercing through my shades. “I’m a Yorigami. I’m pretty sure you’ve got something that belongs to me.”

This adult-sized bruiser spits on my cheek, and that just sets me off—just as all Hell breaks loose.

I turn into an inferno while other oni start heading deeper inside the building or stand their ground in the clubroom or at the bar. I lift my fist again, a golden tornado turning around it while I eye this girl’s face, and a piercing high sound signals me to fuck off.

I move, pushing off the girl’s body into a front flip and spotting some sort of laser firing over her chest, through where I just was, I look to my left and see a bald, uneven-horned guy pointing at his eye and looking at me. Well, alright then. The others – seven left, it looks like – start making bullets.

In the scene of bassy, rapid music and intense, rave lights, Koishi comes bowling in with the lookout, blasting him out of a rosebud from the doorway into a pair of slavers, making them all fall over. I take the tornado coiled around my forearm and slam it downward. It beats the air, swells, and pushes out with glass-shattering force and singeing heat. That wrecks the place, and in the confusion, I take a page out of Yuugi’s book.

I start darting toward whoever I can, headbutting, elbowing, and clocking whenever I can manage. Whenever they try piling on, in a brief half second of red light I’ll spot Koishi’s purple veins catching their arms and waists before they’re yanked out of my way. I end up hardly thinking, and feel a kind of Zen exhilaration. Like this is right. Like I’m going to wipe this whole place out.

Even when I get hit across the face.

Even when I get jerked up and slammed into the floor.

Even when the room fills with even more colors than the clubhouse lights, small and large shaped of danmaku crowding wherever I move.

I exhale sharp.

I get back on my feet.

And I start using the golden flame to make them lose track.

It’s pain: hot, mind-wiping pain, whether I’m the one taking hits or giving them out.

I’ll thrust the bone of my arm into a throat and shove someone’s head into my knee (numbing it), only for three new guys and girls to yank me back and pound my ribs. I’ll throw people over my shoulder, feeling that shoulder strain, and catch a fist before it hits Koishi’s cheek, finding her behind me whenever my body and brain start to waver.

In a whirlwind of sweat and heat, surrounded by bodies, the two of us hold steady at the center of the room, bruising and beating, back to back. After several straight minutes of throws, jabs, haymakers, powers—soon enough, there’re just two oni left. Only two left... Without a word we decide: she takes the man, and I take the woman.

The little oni standing at the door next to their bar: at the iron and steel bulkhead before the blessed cattle. She’s my height, with tall horns and long hair. She whips her hand out and before I can react I feel my left arm tug. I look at it, and between the flashing colors I spot the shine of strings. My arm starts waving without me, until my bag starts to slide off it.

In that moment I reach for it, but out the corner of my eye I see her throw her hand out a second time and feel a stopping in my right leg. It jerks down, throwing me off and letting my bag drop. Then, she starts pulling me apart.

Like my skin is searing, and like my insides are splitting: that’s what I start to feel, and she’s trying her best to get rid of me in no time. She’s dragging her claws apart in a mirror to my body’s stretching, floating in the air. I can’t reach my bag or throw anything, and even if I slip down to the purse, she’ll likely catch me again anyway. Instead of that I hold onto the first thought I have: I put my right thumb between my teeth with the nail on the bottom row, and I bite down ‘til it breaks.

FFFuucking hurts, but I stay focused, flick the blood towards her, and when it splatters on her face I teleport in front of it, socking her down without missing a beat.

She gets up with a hook that I catch. I throw my fist into her face another time.

She buckles and tries to string me up again. I burn, and crash my blazing head into her skull.

When she’s on her back foot I crack into her face again, she’s pushed to her knees and I lunge at her once I see that, pressing my left hand down on her chest. And I think, fuck this girl. I think, fuck Yorigami Joon.

For being down here.

For getting into all this shit.

For what they did, and what I let happen.

I find myself mashing over and over on her face, cracking it, splitting it, making her bleed and bashing out teeth until—

“Joon, don’t forget Shion!”

I hear that, and get back to myself. I stand from the oni, who’s still alive.

I look toward the ceiling, breathing hot and heavy while what looks like black drips, drips off my knuckles and rings. The blood sizzles off my hand under the golden fire, and my heart starts to slow.

“... Alright,” I breathe out. Looking back at my girl, I say “... Thank you.”

“We better hurry up,” she insists with a determined look on. I’m still breathing heavy and surging with adrenaline, but goddamn she’s cute.

[ ♫: http://youtube.com/watch/?v=MDsq9PTQkaY ]
The music changes. I look toward a corner of the room. What are they playing that on, anyway?

I spot what looks like a stereo system and a record spinning on a table. It’s just playing on without any DJ. I feel myself getting chills. In the atmosphere just after a brawl, this kind of song... a brutal and dark synth: I like it.

“Hey, let’s keep that song on. I’m digging it.” I propose to Koishi, pointing at the record and smiling. She keeps that serious look on her face.

“We have to hurry up, Joon,” she says, and I sigh, looking off for a second. Like, I know... I think I’m getting nervous. My emotions just went haywire after all.

“Sorry...” I tell her, looking her way. “Yours still awake?” Mine’s broke and bloody after all.

“I’m keeping him wrapped up! Try getting him to talk and then knock him out!”

I step her way while saying, “This is where an opened eye would be useful,” and she frowns at me as I’m walking past. The olive-skinned oni wrapped in my girlfriend’s embrace looks pretty shaken after I did what I just did. I take a glimpse at the short, sharp horns on his forehead, just a little more obvious with his baldness.

“You’re... the golden god, huh?” he growls at me.

“Where’re you keeping the case of keys today? You move it around, right?” I glance backward and spot my bag under the flurry of colors. I guess the lights are running automatic too. I check them hanging off the ceiling while I grab the purse. “Koishi,” I say, “give him an arm.” I pull out one of the blueprints I received and add a warning: “Try anything dumb and I’m taking pieces of you off. This flame can burn youkai, too; don’t forget.”

I push the map toward his face while a grip of skin-rope open at his side. He cautiously lifts a finger while glaring at me. Stiff, he points at one of the basement rooms. I look at where he poked and confirm, poking it myself, “This?”

He nods. I singe the paper on that spot. I follow up with, “How about Yorigami Shion? Do you know where she’s kept? She’s a poverty god.”

He looks confused, I grimace.

“You don’t know?” I ask.

He opens his mouth, and closes it. I look over at Koishi, and she shrugs with her hands. “I don’t know if he knows,” she says.

I answer back, “Seriously, open your third eye already.” She pouts and grumbles. Hmph... “... Alright, I guess you don’t know,” I speak while looking over the map. “But do you at least know if there is a poverty god here?”

“We weren’t... Boss said we shouldn’t get near her, so...”

I feel like a jolt of electricity ran through me hearing that. I can’t hold the smirk off my lips. “... Last question:” I start, meeting his eyes through my sunglasses, “how do I break the seals?”

“Only Boss knows that.”

“‘Boss’, huh...? What’s this Boss’s name?”

“You said that was the last question, Gold God,” he answers fast. I feel my face drooping down, mostly in repugnance.

“H-Her name is Tenryoushin no Kobari!” he gets that out quick.

“Kobari...? I don’t know a Kobari...” I mutter. That pisses me off. She must be an oni, right? What kind of oni’s that deceptive? She managed to hide her operation that long while I was trying to sniff her out... What was she doing? Or more like... what’s the deal?

Is she really an oni?

I mull this over a bit before telling him, “Thanks. But listen, if you lied about any of that,” I hold up a gold and blazing fist, grinning, “after I put you out here, I’ll be making sure you don’t get up again.”

“We oni never lie!” he swears. I huff. Yeah, I guess that’s mostly true.

“Right...” I say, and I strike him across his left cheek so hard the wall to the left of us shakes, splinters, and gets indented. His eyes go white, and when he starts drooling Koishi lets him go. While I roll the map back, I speak up, saying, “Koishi, stay out of sight, out of mind until... until you ever feel like ya shouldn’t.” Koishi blinks, not saying anything with her eyes or mouth. I feel my own lips turning miserably, “I’ve got a gross, bad feeling... You can tell, right? Well, I’m not going to let you get screwed over while I try to unscrew someone else... someone I let go... Alright?”

Koishi walks up to my front and I straighten my back. Without looking at me, she rests her hands between my chest and stomach. When she speaks, she looks up at me with her half-empty eyes to say, “I’ll be right with you, the whole time.”

I feel like my heart’s being shielded. I put my arms around her and hold her as close as I can while trying to remember her while she starts making herself forgotten. I really... really feel apprehensive. Before she vanishes, I feel a kiss on my cheek. I grasp there gently, holding on to the feeling, then open my palm in front of my eyes. I squeeze it closed, reassuring myself. It’s hard... real hard to not start freaking out. I want to wait and make sure I’m in the right mind, but... she was right: there’s no time for that.

I flash to the steel and iron door, put my hand to it, and start heating it. It glows yellow and starts to melt off its hinges, falling molten to the floor and bending the wood. It’s a shimmering, searing pile after a minute, leading into an unlit stairwell. Knowing Koishi’s at my side, I descend.
>> No. 16467
File 154911104616.jpg - (187.87KB, 1000x840, Kobari.jpg) [iqdb]
16467
[ ♫ keep it up]

I start feeling it immediately.

About forty divine souls, and a wave of choking forces telling me to get out of here. It’s like the basement of the Black Hand... I just feel like it’s worse. It’s pitch black for half a minute, until it opens into what looks like a fallout bunker or... like what I imagine one’d look like. It’s half concrete, half earth, and... Are those...?

I step inside and bend my head around the first hall I see and lo’, there’s a sleeping, pristine god floating midair in a cage. An old prison: I guess that’s what this looks like. I look over the iron bars of the cage, seeing and feeling the seals placed all over them. I can’t even touch that stuff if I tried, and I have a feeling Koishi might not either. The Spider said they were talking about making the seals affective against youkai as well, just in case. Ones that weren’t oni, at least...

I check the map. I don’t want to get the keys yet, but they’re close by from here, probably. There’s a panic room where that “Kobari” is probably hiding. I want there first. If I take the keys first, they might destroy them, and while I could burn bar after bar, it’d take too long. Oni have less trouble with cages...

I start moving toward that room. I think there are... maybe at least five oni there, judging by the count I had of people upstairs, and just raw assumption. I’m already healing from the earlier battle, so I should be alright, but it wasn’t really an easy fight. If Koishi hadn’t had my back, I might’ve only managed after sacrificing a limb or something, and that’s a big “might”.

It doesn’t take long dashing past wailing gods and closed doors, through some chilled and dusty paths before I’m standing in from of the panic room. It’s a big-ass, wheel-handle thing that looks liked it’d take two oni to open if it wasn’t locked. It’s twice the size of me, shining with... what was its name? An alloy, but... it doesn’t matter, I’m punching it open anyway.

I push the toe of my boot back and grip my right hand shut, focusing all of my fire into my fist. There’s a lot more than I’ve been getting used to. A lot of faith, and a lot of my pure, plain-old fury: it concentrates until it’s roaring, sizzling the dirt off the floor and billowing out into the halls to the right, left and behind me. Standing, shaking as still as I can, I quickly open and my hand again, feeling like I can barely contain this. I exhale, drag my knuckles forward, and slam like a wrecking ball into the metal. A hole melts through it in that split second, the rest ripples before it just explodes into the safe room, crushing whoever was standing at it into the far wall. I, uh... hope I didn’t kill that guy. When I’m lucid, I’m really not really feeling the whole “murder” thing.

I walk into the room. It looks like it was described in the plans and by the Spider: really basic, but really sturdy. At the back is something that looks like a vault: it’s a tunnel to the surface. A last resort, since youkai leaving the Underground is allowed... but for most folks: not smart. The Hakurei Shrine Maiden doesn’t fuck around.

Not that I’m fucking around either, though...

A kid is sitting against the vault, bending a little away from the impact of the door against the wall a few meters to her right. She’s an oni... probably. She... looks like a devil, though.

“Well...” she says, “I guess you’re the poverty god’s sister?”

“How could you tell?” I ask, lifting up my shades to get a better look at her. She’s... red.

The other oni in the room don’t seem like they’re here to fight, but I’m not exactly counting on that. I give the little Satan girl another look, waiting for her explanation.

“I just had a feeling ‘cause... I dunno, it just seemed right.” She shrugs with one shoulder; her eyes closed, her lips pulling to a smirk.

“The hell?”

“She’s a god of misfortune, a poverty god,” she says. “Her life’s dirt and irony. Bad timing, and bad luck.”

“... What?”

I feel worried. The girl runs a clawed hand through her shining hair, white like bone, and puts her black-yellow eyes on me again.

“Hey, you’re from the Outside World, right? Then do you know this one? ‘Sorry, your princess is in another castle’.”

She grins a row of sharp teeth at me, and... there’s a bad feeling but... I gotta say, first thing I feel is respect here: for the hustle. If I were sitting down there like her in those fine threads, feeling like I’d won on the one thing that mattered, I’d feel just as fucking smug.

“Shion’s... not here...” I confirm, grinning back... gritting my teeth, gripping my nails into my palm. I look at her, seeing she’s just about to laugh. “You... sold her.”

“And you wanna know the funniest part!?” she raises her voice, snickering now and almost falling over. With tears in her eyes she says, “A month and a half! We got rid of her a month and a half ago! It’s like, damn girl, isn’t it like you usually just miss it in stories!? How unlucky is she!? What the fuck have you been doing!? Ha ha ha!! HA!” She bellows laughing. Well, she at least laughs like an oni...

Shit, I... That means I missed her a little after I moved into the Quarter...

“When was it you moved in?” she asks when her laughter dies down, bending a white eyebrow and still grinning brightly. “Same month we sold her? I guess you ‘just missed it’ then. Shit, girl... Hahaha!!”

“I’m feeling optimistic,” I tell her. “If this is what you’re saying, it means I can find her.”

The girl... Kobari, I’m betting... settles back more into the vault-door, barely hiding the twisting smile on her mouth behind a loose hand.

“... What?” I ask, feeling angry.

“You... I won’t lie, you’re a really tough god. It’s impressive! I’m impressed, Joon!”

“Yorigami.”

“But you’d’ve been fucked if you tackled us before the Kurode, and if you try to get your sister back now...” A chuckle escapes her lips. Then, she throws her head back cackling like mad, and I’m too pissed to not speak.

“Say it, damn it!”

“NO!” she yells, and she bears her teeth just... gross. Her mouth opens, showing her cherry tongue and every one of the spikes lining her jaw. She feels so pleased with herself. I’m stunned just looking at her. The rest of the oni keep quiet. “Client-customer confidentiality!!” she boasts in as smug a voice as she can manage. “An ‘oni’ promise, hahahahaha!!”

Look, I’m running low on patience. She keeps blabbing.

“Even if you knew who they were, they’d flatten you!” she says. “You wouldn’t even be a stain on the floor! You wouldn’t even be dust!”

That’s a hint if I ever heard one... She’s holding her stomach now she’s laughing so hard. “You’re laughing too much...” I say.

“Haven’t... you heard the saying about oni and future plans? It just makes us laugh!!” she tells me.

“So you are an oni,” I confirm (though I’m pretty damn sure that’s about making plans at least a year ahead), she stops her mirth to just look at me with a smile.

“Mostly, mostly,” she says. Aahh... I gotcha. She’s some sorta half-breed... That’d explain it. “I’ve got the blood of a demon from Makai. Hey, did you know? A silver tongue’s worth a thousand times its weight in gold down in a world where the truth is given, and lies are inconceivable.”

Damn it...

... This piece of shit’s way too much like me.

“Tell you what,” Kobari says, pointing my way with her palm up, “I like you, especially since you’re not a pathetic piece of shit like your sister.” ... I’ll allow that. “I’ll give you one chance and two hints to guess the name of the guy who has your sister. How’s that sound?”

“... If it’s the oni part of you making that deal,” I answer. Hey, I’ll bite.

“Your first hint,” she says, lifting the finger she was pointing at me beside her face, “is that there are more legendary oni than four.”

Huh? She raises her middle finger, not stopping, “Your second hint is that this ain’t no bear.”

Hhmmm...??

Does she mean...

Uhh... How did it go? Shuuten-douji, Ibaraki-douji...

Hoshikuma-douji, Kane-douji, Tora-douji, Kuma-douji...

It’s not Ibaraki, and if it was Yuugi... no; oni don’t betray friends.

Not a bear, so it’s not her anyway, and can’t be Kuma.

Offhand I forget which was the fourth Deva of the Mountain aside from Ibuki and Ibaraki. Which one was that Suika lady’s other name? There’s no Ibuki-douji, so I guess like Yuugi she changed her name a little. She’s got to be Kane, Shuuten, Kuma, or Tora. As for Ibaraki, she should be gone... So is she back, and plotting something crazy?

Shuuten, Kane, Ibaraki, or Tora: those are the most famous, legendary names that could fit.

... Thinking about it... isn’t it—?


[] Shuuten-douji

[] Kane-douji

[] Ibaraki-douji

[] Tora-douji

++++++++

Song 1
[Sexkiller on the Loose - TRILOGY (Carpenter Brut)]
Song 2
[In The Face Of Evil - Hotline Miami 2 (Magic Sword)]

image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2978740
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3113491
>> No. 16468
File 154911669555.jpg - (122.95KB, 1032x1200, Dc3rQuTV4AEzmw-.jpg) [iqdb]
16468
Originally, Shuten was not a deva, but the boss of them.
That doesn't seem to be the case in Touhou, since the Shuten expy, Suika Ibuki, is one of the four.
In this story, however, it seems that there are indeed five legendary Oni. Makes sense.
Also, something Ibuki's place is taken by someone named just Kuma. Talk about confusing.


Anyway, Yuugi Hoshiguma is Hoshikuma and Kasen Ibaraki is Ibaragi.

This leaves Torakuma and Kanakuma. Both bears and both out.

Wait what. Ah no, Kanakuma is actually Kanaguma. Fucking moonrunes man.

[X] Kane-douji

I'm guessing Kane is Kana? I don't even know at this point.
>> No. 16469
>>16468
I'm happy you've done some good ol' research, here's a bone toss:
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E9%85%92%E5%91%91%E7%AB%A5%E5%AD%90#%E6%B3%A8%E9%87%88
Point 3.
>> No. 16470
[X] Kane-douji
>> No. 16471
[x] Kane-douji
>> No. 16472
File 154934501487.png - (223.94KB, 600x420, the smile of a winner.png) [iqdb]
16472
GJ, you got it.

With this, we enter the last part of the story. Not long left, dear readers.

++++++++

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AxZdPLIKDU ]
[Technoir - Hotline Miami 2 (Perturbator)]

Right... damn, it was Torakuma, wasn’t it? And since I saw Ibuki’s statue along with Ibaraki and Yuugi, and remember hearing she was their leader, she’s probably that infamous Shuuten. Ibaraki... Her hint made it sound like it was someone not so known.

That only leaves—

[X] “Kane-douji?”

Kobari claps once. The air from the hit tosses my bangs. “Good answer!” she shouts. Damn, someone needs to teach her what an indoors-voice is. She aims her finger at me and says, “If you don’t hurry, he’ll eat her up.”

—? Uh, huh? What?

The question shows on my face, and she answers it while laying back, folding her arms, “Brother Kane has a plan, and part of it needs what your sister’s got.”

I want to run out, but I really want to know: what’s this about “eating”. I speak up, “... Is that bastard going to fu—”

Before I end that word in a hard consonant, Kobari’s face turns real negative and she snaps, “Oi! Hell are you thinking!? What part of ‘eat’ sounds like that to you, you dumb bitch!?”

I lean back a little. Guess not all oni know the euphemism... I get back to my ordinary posture and ask instead, “So he’s going to consume her? He wants her power of misfortune for himself or something? Is that it?”

“Yeah. Once he heard about her flame, he practically jumped at buying her.” ”Flame”...? “But he wanted to make sure it was at its ideal strength before eating her. ‘Just in case’, he said.”

I listen to what she’s saying, looking toward my feet, taking it for truth...

... Thing is, truth or a lie: her objective here is obvious. I call her out on it, meeting her gaze with min, “You want to hurry me off real badly, huh? Going to cut your losses and escape to the surface...”

The slave master keeps her eyes steady, not smiling anymore, but not nervous either. “I can take you,” she says, “and the satori if she’s with you, I can stop you both by myself.” She starts to stand up, not showing me her face while she does. She clarifies: “But just because I ‘can’ doesn’t mean I ‘will’. Unlike pureblooded oni, when I see the risk in a challenge, I don’t get excited, I get nervous.” When she picks her head up, standing confidently, she flashes me her dagger-whites one more time. “And you’ve got a Sovereign on your side. You know, even if she lets me kill you because you died fighting, I don’t like the idea of spending the rest of my life afraid of the retribution of Hoshiguma Yuugi. All that said...” The yellow of her eyes shine in a way that makes my hair rise. Creepy as hell, the contrast between her iris and the black of where white should be. She tells me, “if you try to stop me, or try to kill me, I’ll drag it out and take as long as he needs. Hell, I’ll put you in slave shackles if I can. What I’m saying is, for your sister’s sake, you’d better just get out of here.”

Koishi manifests behind me, whispering, “What are you gonna do, Joon?”

What am I gonna do...? Really, it should be obvious what I want to do. This is the girl who kidnapped Sis. But, there’s nothing to choose here...

“I’m leaving,” I say, “and I’m going after Kane-douji.” At that, Koishi vanishes, but not before I feel her passing my left side.

“Really!? You should just give up!” Kobari yells, and I look at her blankly. She gestures at me while talking, “This is Brother Kane, you know! Kane! He’s on the same level as the Four Devas of the Mountain! He wields disasters! Just leave it alone! You’re fucked!”

“I’ll figure something out,” I say. I think, blink, and smirk, asking, “What? You worried he’ll guess you’re the one who gave me his name?”

“It wouldn’t help me any...” she admits, falling gently into the vault door again. She shrugs. “Whatever. If that’s how you want to die, I guess it’s better than having no choice about it...” She turns around.

“Wait,” I stop her, and she stares at me. “Oni, tell me how to free the slaves.”

Her shoulders hunch, her eyes narrow, and she grins like before. “I don’t have to do that,” she says. I nod upward, though she doesn’t notice. “Why do you think I wou—gh!?”

Koishi shows up behind her, tightening her cords over Kobari’s throat, arms, torso, and legs. I will myself toward Koishi, and before she can say anything I throw a flaming hand at the oni’s neck, grabbing around it, feeling the squeeze of the muscles in there, and watching as gold fire threatens her hair. The other oni in the room get into poses to act. I speak up, “Because I’m going to make ash out of you if you don’t. You’re right that I don’t have much time to waste, but you don’t wanna die right?” I grip harder, and she sputters, struggling against her bindings. “I don’t like the idea of killing anyone, but for how you handle other lives I can make an exception.”

“Khyou... couldn’t even if you... wanted!” she brags. Well...

“Maybe you’re not wrong,” I tell her, “but scarring you for the rest of your life wouldn’t be a bad deal either.”

I don’t know if I can really “beat” Kobari. I can tell just by holding her that she’d make Gasha look like a joke, and there’s a bunch of her pals around. But... I can’t leave here without rescuing the other gods. It’d be too low, even for me. I’ve said a lotta shit getting all the way here, but the truth is: I can’t abide this “slavery” crap. If I can stop it...

I will.

“F-Fine...!” she manages to say. She glances to her right, to a taller, but younger-looking oni who seems like he’s hobbled from the way he’s—wait, this is the guy I had Koishi follow. “Seiyou, put the thing by the door.” I check and see him pulling out his pocket a small black staff with a gold, kinda-spike top and a bunch of rings clanging off it... A shakujou?

“Hey,” I address him, and he winces after hopping with surprise. Damn, Yuugi really did a number on him... that’s not oni-like at all. “Will that take down the barriers?”

“O-Of course!” he stammers. “Boss wouldn’t lie about that!”

“She would,” I say, glancing at her, “you wouldn’t.”

After letting that sink in a moment, he goes to put the staff where he was told and after I let up a little on her throat, Kobari keeps talking. “Just wave that over the cages to dispel the bindings. Nothing to it. You can find the keys in one of the rooms. Okay? Gonna let me go now? Let me get away scot-free?” She smiles.

I start to back up toward the door, Koishi following with Kobari still wrapped up. When we’re there, I meet Koishi’s eyes, she disappears, and I use my fire to launch Kobari back into the tunnel gate. She hits it, but not all too hard; she doesn’t even fall, just stands a bit weakly against it. The other oni wait to see if I did anything to her, and after she stops coughing, she says, “It’s fine. Let her do what she wants.”

“Kobari... right?” I say. She looks at me with one eye closed. “You probably know this without me saying it, but this ain’t me forgiving you.” I cross my arms. “I’ll meet you again, topside.”

“As business partners, I’m sure,” she swears, grinning toothily as ever. Tch, fuck off. She gives one laugh. “Now fuck off, Joon, and go die.”

I feel my body get shoved out of the door, pushed into an invisible Koishi. I lift my head after I brought it down in defense, and just see... it looks like a void, where the door used to be. I touch it, and see that it’s solid. Some weird oni bullshit... I confirm to myself. Maybe I could take it down, but that’s not my business anymore. I face Koishi, see the shakujou in her hand, and sigh so long and heavy my body rattles. She puts her hands on my shoulders and I look at her.

That was intense... Honestly, I felt bad there the whole time.

I look back at the void. Kobari... I really didn’t want to let her get away. That bitch... the only thing she’s losing here is her stock. She’s not the type who stumbles and can’t get back up again. Finding her, too... won’t be easy.

Kane, though: he will be.

Koishi and I both look at the Buddhist staff meant to dispel Shinto barriers. At least, if the oni said so. We decide to split up—me going for the keys while she erases the seals’ power. We’ll meet back up and free everyone else, later.

~~

I stick the right key into the last cage. Behind me are dozens of weak and deflated gods. It didn’t take long to do all this, though half of them wanted to stop me with a hug once they got what I was doing.

I unlock the bars and drag them squeaking open. The luminous old maid inside breathes with relief, but doesn’t move. Maybe she thinks she’s dreaming.

“Wish I had a cellphone. I want someone dealing with all this. This sucks,” I tell Koishi, who’s smiling brightly right next to me. In contrast, I look and feel like shit.

“Joon, you did great! Get hyped up! Come on!” she encourages. I smile myself, and huff.

“It’s hard. This is a shit deal,” I say, turning away from the cage and going to the stairs. The crowd of murmuring gods follows us. “Finding someone as famous as Kane won’t be hard, it’s the ‘getting Shion back’ part that holds me back. You haven’t tussled with an oni Sovereign, Koishi. They’re dumb. This could just wind up being the end. I mean, the end, and that’s it.”

“Get Miss Yuugi to help!” she says as we start ascending. I put my hand on the back of my neck before answering.

“Yuugi won’t help,” I tell her. “Even if she did, I wouldn’t like it. I think I’ve spent too damn long down here... especially around her. I get the honor thing a little too much.” I sigh, shaking my head. “Can’t wait to leave; get better ideas in my head.”

“But you’re taking me, right?” Koishi asks.

I don’t hesitate to say, “Of course.” I look back at her and reassure her, “You’re just as much a part of me as my heart is, you know? I can’t do the rest of this with you missing.”

She swoons. Well, good, I really meant that.

When we finally get out of the clubhouse, marching past unconscious oni I wonder about (like what’ll they do? Follow Kobari?), the gods we rescued start talking real loud. There’s a whole hell of a lot of them: like young, old, boys, girls, men, all that. A lot of them are asking what I’m doing, what’s going on.

Yeah... I’m gonna have Yamame take care of this. When I get the Black Hand taken down, too, that spider’s gonna be on all.

But, before I get the elder spider’s attention, what about Kane-douji?

When I find out where he is, what do’ll I do about it?

Once I know that, I’ll get moving...


[] Challenge Kane-douji outright.

[] Sneak that shit. Get Shion and get out.

++++++++

image source: https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/2489806
>> No. 16473
[x] Sneak that shit. Get Shion and get out.

Now is the time for pragmatism over pride.
>> No. 16474
[x] Sneak that shit. Get Shion and get out.

Joon, this is a sneaking mission.
>> No. 16475
>>16472
[x] Sneak that shit. Get Shion and get out.
Just a single coin left behind.
>> No. 16476
[x] Sneak that shit. Get Shion and get out.
>> No. 16477
[x] Sneak that shit. Get Shion and get out

you must channel your inner Snake Joon
>> No. 16478
[x] Challenge

Be honorable!
>> No. 16479
File 154979372569.jpg - (0.99MB, 1728x879, pair.jpg) [iqdb]
16479
image sources:
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3354573
https://danbooru.donmai.us/posts/3121704

++++++++

[X] Sneak that shit. Get Shion and get out.


... Know what?

If there’s even the slightest chance of getting through this without a fight, I’d better take it.

“Come on, Koishi,” I say, stepping now toward the spiders’ district, “let’s get shit in order before we’re finished here once and for all.”

[ ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ts4axsSHlpA ]
[347 Midnight Demons - TRILOGY (Carpenter Brut)]

I punch my fist into my palm. Koishi brightens up, and nods.

~~

We got everything together for the gods through Yamame, or more like, Yamame gave us a good suggestion to see Koishi’s sister. See Satori’s acquainted an influential pair of gods from the surface that know a good amount about how a god can get by. Basically, that old bag Kanako will take care of them.

Other than that, I chose to leave Satori out of this stuff. Me and Koishi left without explaining a thing, and I wasn’t going to wait around long enough for the sister to try to stop me after hearing what I was trying to do. Girl’s too noisy... Koishi said we should get a guidebook to find Kane, and we did. I flipped through one at a bookstand uptown, near the Nobles’ District. Kane, Torakuma, even Ibaraki’s old place: everything was right there, on a map. There I was, thankful for a second time that the Underground had become a tourist destination in the last six years.

Of course, it could be Shion’s not there.

Could be that he’ll’ve had her locked away somewhere secret.

But here I am now, in the shadow of the Palace of Kane no Kinshi, crouched down and figuring the place out, looking at his name – 「金詩」 – displayed on the plaque of a defensive wall. It’s a pretty ordinary castle for Japan: tall and with obvious, distinct rooves. Looks like he didn’t bother with a moat or anything. Well, this is a world where pretty much anyone can fly I guess, so, fair. It’s also mostly peaceful down here in Hell. Guarding yourself in spite of that’d probably send a bad, “I can’t make friends” message. At any rate: it’s red and white... “Bad sign” colors.

Koishi pops out from under my arm, bunching up my overcoat in the process. I look at her and ask in a whisper, “Got any bad vibes, Koishi?”

She shakes her head, then asks, “How about you, Joon?”

“I was worried... but now I’m getting kinda amped up.” I look to the topmost part of the building. Five stories... How come I get the sense we’re going to be down in a basement right after getting in...? “Can you hide me again while we sneak in?” I ask, staring down at her.

She looks at me a bit painfully, which really just makes me confused. “I can try,” she says, “but, um... honestly. I’m kinda nervous... It’s hard to get rid of my presence like this.”

Huh... that’s “good”, but a lack of emotional progress would’ve been more useful here. Catching my mix of pride and disappointment at this information, Koishi eyes me suspiciously.

So, my gal wasn’t nervous about the slaves, but old Gold-Gospel out here’s giving her a bunch of second thoughts. Any abundance of thought’s at all could do that; break her “ability” (if that’s what you want to call it). “Don’t push yourself,” I tell her, “we’ll just do everything carefully. Stay quiet, and follow my lead. You’re not used to sneaking around without your third eye doing all the work for you. Let’s get moving... Need a kiss before we do?”

“I don’t!” she hisses, glowing with shame. I grin, turning back to the castle.

“Just saying...” I reply, “could be our last chance.”

She swallows, and I can feel the small flame of anxiety flickering inside her chest. I decide to reassure her.

“Let’s make sure I get as many chances as I want after this. I’m burning this death flag invitation.” I grip the cloth of my dress, and I start in on the palace.

I’ve got a good amount of experience with breaking and entering, but “easy work” is “safe work” is “best work”, and I’ve always been better with my tongue than my hands—uh, right. Like I can talk a mean talk, but “walk” isn’t much in my portfolio of skills. Still, I know how to do it. It’s good to know stuff, you know?

Koishi keeps at my back while I push to the outer walls of Kane’s castle. The best thing to do if you want to get in somewhere and out without being noticed is to never go in while someone’s already there, and I can sense an oni inside this place. The next best thing is to plan, but I didn’t have any time for that. So, I’m left with some basic keys of burglary. Stick to shadows, don’t make a lot of noise, and for fuck’s sake pay attention. I sidle along the heavy-looking red bricks of the wall (like fuck it feels like each one of these is half my height) until Koishi and I are behind it. Kane is in a part of the District not affiliated with any particular sovereign. From this side of his palace, all you can see is a mile of unused, uneven, underground earth. From the front, of course you can see a not-too-distant Former Capital.

I meet Koishi’s eyes, trying to ask her if she doesn’t notice anyone either. She gives me a go-ahead nod, and both of us turn to start scaling the thing by hand. Or, I climb the whole way up; Koishi gives at the ground, disappears, and I next see her waiting, crouched, at the top. So much for being nervous...

So... if a fight with Kane Kinshi is inevitable... and really, I should be thinking it is as a worst case scenario... what exactly do I do?

I can’t beat that guy, can I?

Guess I can try to wound him at least...

And what does that mean? “He wields disasters”? What?

Maybe I can convince him to settle this with danmaku...? The Hakurei Shrine Maiden managed to get Yuugi to agree...

Ha ha... yeah, that’s not happening.

I summit the wall. Koishi gives me an encouraging nod for not cheating by flying up here under a cloak of subconscious. I look at the castle, and the gardens.

First, there’s a Zen garden here in the back, unsurprisingly. Oni are really into that vibe, in spite of how crazy they usually are. The porch: can’t see anything on it from here, but I can’t really see it at all to be honest. Any open windows...?

Koishi looks in my eyes, expecting a next choice. Well...

I point down, to the gardens.

For now the two of us split up and take either side of the thing, we both carefully climb down the walls, keeping aware of any changes in energy through the air. When we reach ground level without any problems, we step softly over the stones of the garden and then onto the wooden step, reuniting in front of his opened back doors. Inside...

“So many lamps...” Koishi comments, and when I move to shush her, I notice she’s vanished again. This girl...

Anyway, yeah: looks like Kane-boy has a thing for paper lanterns, because there seem to be like fifty of them in this room before the garden, and I can see more on walls further in. That’s absolute shit for sneaking around, you know? I mean, they’re dim at least... but there’s an orange or yellow glow just about everywhere inside, it looks like: not a spot of darkness at all. Too bad I can’t collect ordinary flames using my godly ones. That’d make things easier.

I walk, crouching, into the castle.

Other than the lanterns, what really strikes me about this place is... god DAMN it’s big. I wasn’t paying attention maybe? These hallways are fucking massive, like clearance for truck passage massive. The floors are decorated with literal gold leaves, embedded into the planks below. The walls have either lanterns, or plain white space. I stop and listen for a bit, trying to hear or feel for any drafts ‘cause... I just know it. I’m really damn sure if Shion’s anywhere, it’s even further underground. I’ve... got theories, I guess.

I don’t feel anything, though. I think we’ve got to scope the place out. I point at (a once-more materialized) Koishi, then point to the halls ahead of us. I’ll wait in the standing-lantern room, she can go scout. She agrees, and I lose sight of her.

After a few minutes sitting in a pulsing room trying to look like I’m not there, Koishi appears before me, points up with one hand, and down with the other, moving both slightly my way like she’s asking a question.

I point down again. She confirms, and waves me to join her. While I do, I notice that I can “feel” her pretty clearly. Honestly, I think I’ve mostly only noticed this when we’ve had... I mean, I don’t think she’s turned on or something, but she... might be freaking out.

I watch the back of her head while we skulk the halls, and keep totally silent.

... And in a little time, we’re at a cutaway: where there would usually be wall there’s nothing, and at the floor there’s only a fifteen by fifteen foot square pit. Guess it’s... a change of pace from staircases. Is that really it...? Well...

... At the very least, the big guy is down there.

“...”

I find that I’m holding Koishi’s hand. She lets me squeeze her palm.

... Sis.

Uh, when I see her, what do I...?


[] Keep calm and in charge and leave as soon as possible.

[] Get her to talk, maybe learn something.

[] Hug her.
>> No. 16480
>>16479
[X] Get her to talk, maybe learn something.

Hey sis, how about you give some money as compensation for this breaking and entering to the homeowner.
>> No. 16481
[x] Hug her

nothing shall stop the hugs, not even spoiler text or crossed out words!
>> No. 16482
[x] Keep calm and in charge and leave as soon as possible.
>> No. 16483
[x] Keep calm and in charge and leave as soon as possible.


Keep risks at minimum.
>> No. 16484
[x] Keep calm and in charge and leave as soon as possible.
>> No. 16485
[x] Hug her
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