Traditional CYOA. Short, un-proofread updates. Probably going to hit a dead-end very fast. May or may not be a horror story. Go go go.
You yawn and wake up from your bed, brushing aside traces of your blond hair from your eyes. Staring at the arched ceiling, a necessary consequence of your house being under a bridge, you stretch a few times before getting up.
Brushing your teeth, you look at your own green eyes in the mirror. What a sorry sight. Few people have passed over the bridge, and the oni you usually hang out with have disappeared from your social radar, citing “work”, as if those youkai would ever let things like jobs get in the way of their drinking. Spitting out the water, you get the feeling that you might be forgetting something as well...
Oh right, your package! You open your front door and there it is, the cardboard box bearing sigils of the gap youkai. Excited, you tear apart the box and retrieve the object within, a large, flat entity that reminds you of a slate. It is smooth and black, a pleasant sight, as you paid a pretty hefty amount of money to Mayohiga for this to be modified.
It is a “laptop computer”, a complicated Outside World device. Yukari has tampered with its components to A: Function off of Old Hell’s nuclear-fueled power grid, and B: Tap in to “networks” outside of Gensokyo. There’s a large note attached to the computer which warns you that the latter modification is highly experimental, and may produce local environmental side-effects similar to the border weakenings in Muenzuka.
You brush off these concerns. The computer offers you an unprecedented opportunity, for it has access to the “internet”, which apparently lets you communicate with humans all over the Outside World. You can talk with an infinite amount of people, probing them and extracting their weaknesses. Then, you can manipulate them, turning them against each other, and breed the most delicious of emotions: jealousy, the fuel that sustains your existence. In fact, given the amount of people on this “internet”, you might not even have to do anything, and just feed off of the jealousy that humans naturally produce when interacting with each other.
All of this, without ever leaving the comfort of your house. You don’t consider yourself a lazy hashihime, but this is too good to pass up.
For the rest of the day...and the day after that...and the whole week eventually, you set up and turn your full attention towards familiarizing yourself with the machine, its hardware and “software”. It is a delightful toy, full of all sorts of capabilities. It can record and play back your own voice, store a seemingly infinite amount of text, and display animated pictures. Sure, the kappa probably have something like this, but they aren’t sharing.
But those trivial aspects aren’t why you spent a large proportion of your savings on this machine. Eating a cold riceball with your other hand, you load up the web browser, and type in the search bar: “How to talk to many people on the internet”
“Google” shows you a wealth of options.
[ ] Try a mainstream forum, highest target density. [ ] What are imageboards? They seem interesting. Anonymity is a plus. [ ] Hop onto a live chat service, this “Discord” sounds promising. [ ] Sign up for a social network. Facebook, perhaps? You wonder if this might be breaking the masquerade. [ ] Maybe some other sort of web service? Write-in:
[X] What are imageboards? They seem interesting. Anonymity is a plus.
If the goal is to troll people in order to garner jealously then there's no more easier prey than anonymity. I bet you could make up some story on not 4 chan or fish for a hot take and thousands of people will rage or cry and stuff.
Create a flame war Parsee, you can do it!
If there's an tie though then
[X] Try Discord, join some server filled with incels. that also gives a jucy meal for minimun effort.
I don't reccomend showing your face online yet fellow Anons, we don't want our Net Noob to be creeped out by perverts and white knights.
Let's learn a bit with the power of being anonymous before trying such a bold move
[X] What are imageboards? They seem interesting. Anonymity is a plus.
You eagerly type in the URL. There are no drawbacks to trying on this one, you don’t need to sign up for an account or anything! You did set up an email as part of your process in acclimating to this virtual environment, but you want to spend some more time familiarizing yourself with the social nature of the internet before doing something more personal.
The interface is obtuse. You take the better part of an hour to figure out how to even post. From a brief glance at the conversations ongoing in the “threads”, the denizens of imageboards appear to be oddly hostile to each other, shouting out what are obviously slurs and acting contrarian to every opinion expressed. You consider posting in one of the threads where Gensokyo is treated like a fictional universe, then think better of it.
How do I invoke jealousy in these people? You stroke your ears as you think. They seem very angry over trivial things, so they probably don’t have a lot of good things going on in their real world lives. Idly wondering what the average living conditions for a channer is like, you search for an image of a “well-to-do” household on Google and pick one that’s fairly down the list. Moving on over to one of the general boards, you post the image along with some needling text: “Pic of my house, bet you losers can’t afford this.”
The responses come in, slowly. There isn’t much interest.
“Lol. Fake and gay.”
“OP sucks cocks.”
An image of a fish and a hook, captioned “This is bait.”
And several other likewise indifferent responses. Groaning in disappointment, you refresh the page a few times until you notice that it’s marked as archived, and then a couple minutes later it’s nowhere to be seen. A “404 error” with a cutesy image greets your eyes instead.
Your own jealousy boils to the surface as you survey the crowded threads at the top of the board, some close to three hundred replies. How come they get to generate so much interest? How come they obtain so much genuine engagement? How come they get to stay on the board!
Murmuring curses under your breath, you decide to go participate in a thread instead.
It appears that the users are sharing their stories in the form of “greentext”, your favorite color. Somehow making everything seem like a quote makes it more entertaining? You shake your head. Humans are weird.
Anyway. Next attempt. You type this one out with less motivation than before:
<span class="unkfunc">>Be me </span><span class="unkfunc">>Own a massive mansion at the top of a hill and not under a bridge </span><span class="unkfunc">>My spouse is hot and devoted to me </span><span class="unkfunc">>We go out to eat every night </span><span class="unkfunc">>Come home wasted </span><span class="unkfunc">>We plow </span><span class="unkfunc">>We often kick the shrine maiden in her broke-ass shrine for fun </span><span class="unkfunc">>She is poor and stupid, unlike me </span><span class="unkfunc">>Life is good </span> This time, there are no indifferent dismissals. In fact, there are no responses at all. You stare at the thread for a good hour until it reaches autosage, but nobody decided to engage with your greentext story.
What’s wrong with these humans? Don’t they even feel a twinge of jealousy at someone clearly better off than they are? If bragging about your wealth and status don’t work, what will?
[ ] Keep throwing mud at the wall to see if something sticks [ ] Try a different site [ ] Change your strategy. Write-in:
[X] Change your strategy. Write-in: Lurk moar Gotta get a feel for how these weirdos hold their conversations, get a real feel about what makes them mad and how to press their buttons. Might want to move to a more niche board as well. I'm sure Parsee doesn't know shit about video games or vtubers or guns or cars or etc (except /x/) but people have very specific opinions on these subjects and it's easy to fuck with them.
You take a deep breath. You were too hasty. Humans may be prey, but they are complex things to decipher. The proper way to go about things is to observe the imageboard users thoroughly, and find out what makes them tick through analysis. Damn, who knew using the internet to harvest jealousy would be so hard?
You’ll need to spend quite a bit of time to do this. Unfortunately, your pantry is empty, depleted by your previous week of computer-studying. You close the laptop and grab your wallet and carrying pack. Time to make a market run.
Across the long bridge you are bound to, and onto the streets of Old Hell. The reverberations of your footsteps soon give way to the raucous, thundering noises of the oni-ran city. Sure, the satori may be officially the one in charge of the whole thing (and is the one who writes your paychecks for taking care of the bridge), but Old Hell is defined by these horned, freakishly strong youkai who have drinking and fighting as their hobbies.
They don’t like you too much, though not enough to prevent them from drinking with you whenever you are in one of your very rare sociable moods. Most of the time, you and the oni keep your mutual distances. Even in the crowded streets of the evening drinking hour, your piercing green eyes and foreign attire grant you a wide berth from the residents of Old Hell.
“Two sacks of rice, one sack of flour, one pot of lard, two strings of fish, two pots of pickles...” You curtly list off your order to the grocery store attendants, who take their sweet time getting the items due to drinking on the job, as per usual for this hour. If you haven’t been so distracted by the computer these past few days, you would’ve done a market run at around noon, but now your grasp of time is more than a little hazy.
You pass the time by surveying the crowds. Despite your ability and need to invoke jealousy, you have mostly been getting away with brute-force. Human relationships are fragile things, after all, and only the closest of people can really resist your ability worming its way into their feelings and breaking apart couples and families (but mostly couples). As such...you don’t really talk to people that much. The recent introduction of the spell card system only helped this tendency, as you can substitute bullets for social interaction.
Maybe if you had spent time figuring out how to generate jealousy the old fashioned way, this internet thing would be easier.
Your gaze falls upon another set of green eyes. Oh, it’s the satori’s younger sister. Koishi? Was it? She’s staring at you from an alleyway, not moving. You cautiously wave at her, and she waves back.
Wait, why is she visible? Doesn’t her ability make her invisible to the subconscious or something? As these thoughts cross your mind, Koishi...sort of fades away and vanishes.
Right, she probably figured out how to turn it off. Good for her.
“Your food, miss.” The oni at the counter slurs out as he passes you the filled pack of food. You quickly pay, and turn to leave.
Down the streets of Old Hell, and across the bridge to the other side where your house is.
After you finish loading up the pantry, you hop on over to the laptop and eagerly open it up. Time to carefully study how to...oh, what’s this? An email in your inbox? “Please consider this unique opportunity.”
Curious, you open it up.
“Hello Mr./Ms. Mizuhashi,
Our staff over at Twitch.tv have noticed your recent activities and decided that you are a perfect fit for our site. For this, we’re including a complementary set of high-quality recording devices for all your streaming needs. Simply sign up on our site and we’ll get you started!
Regards, The Twitch Team”
That’s odd, you don’t recall interacting with this website or “streaming” anything. Is this one of those malware-containing messages? No, it doesn’t have an attachment or a hyperlink, since the site is apparently famous enough to just pop-up on Google.
[ ] Delete the message, it’s probably spammed. Get back to lurking. [ ] Hop onto the site and scope it out. Maybe it’s worth considering.
[X] Hop onto the site and scope it out. Maybe it’s worth considering.
Hey, if they’re willing to offer you free stuff, they must be genuine in some way. You wonder how they’re going to deliver the equipment without going through Yukari first though.
You still have no idea after the cardboard box with a smile logo on it showed up at your doorstep two days later. Included are a camcorder, microphone, a black mobile phone (no marked brand, which gave you some trouble as you looked up guides on how to set it up) a scroll of green fabric (it’s a “green screen” according to Google, for “editing backgrounds”) and some accessories like tripods to mount the devices on.
The phone raises some questions in your head. Sure, you needed one since Twitch.tv requires “two-factor authentication” to allow you to begin streaming, but did Yukari modify this one to bypass the Hakurei Barrier as well? The “SIM card” slot is empty in the phone, but it could receive the 2FA code just fine. Perhaps this is an experimental model or something that doesn’t need one?
You make a mental note to ask the gap youkai about the phone and the box in general the next time you stumble into her.
Your dining table quickly becomes filled up with the equipment, enough that you had to drag out a separate folding table for meals. After completing the final step in Twitch’s verification process, you are ready to stream! Your powers have a visual component to them, so by just maintaining virtual eye contact you can draw out their latent jealousy. Surely this will be the path to a life of easily harvested jealousy!
A knock at the door shakes you out of your daydreaming. “Hey Parsee?” Sounds like one of the oni you bother talking to. “I haven’t seen you at the city bars recently, is something up?”
“I’m working on something very important right now: Streaming. So if you could go away that would be nice.” You reply, impatient.
“What’s “streaming”? Eh, never mind. Just making sure that you’re okay.”
Footsteps indicate that the oni went away. For how straightforward and blunt oni are, they can sure be busybodies. “Anyways.” You say to yourself as you start the stream, “Let’s show the Outside World what they’re in for.”
The stream starts up, and you can see a mirror of your computer screen in the interface, along with a small side rectangle with the camcorder’s footage. That’s silly, why would the default setup be like that? You drag the camcorder portion until it’s the whole screen. “Hello humans!” You say with the best possible smile you can put on, “Welcome to my stream. Now, can any of you...”
The chat is silent. You look at the viewer count. One.
“Is anyone actually here?”
A single chat message pops up.
>[Wrench Icon]Metatron: Nice eyes, Parsee, but what are you streaming about?
“What do you mean?” You ask, confused. “Isn’t streaming just about showing your face on the internet and talking to a lot of people?”
>[Wrench Icon]Metatron: [Thinking emoji] Well, normally you play video games on stream, but people stream all kinds of things, like art, music, and cooking. "Just chatting" streams like yours exist, but usually it’s an established streamer doing it, or people showing off their bodies.
“So, you have to be doing interesting things on stream?” That’s annoying, seems like there’s one more hurdle between you and all those humans with sweet, sweet envy.
>[Wrench Icon]Metatron: Pretty much. Hey, if you make a Steam account we can send some video games over to you.
More free stuff? Odd. “I’m flattered, but I must ask, why is your company interested in me?”
Metatron takes somewhat more time to type out the next message.
>[Wrench Icon]Metatron: We have identified you through your online activities as being a very suitable candidate for our platform. We believe that you can pull in a lot of viewers once you really get started and benefit both our platform and yourself.
Sounds about right, with your understanding. You did many random things you can’t quite understand during your first week on the internet. Twitch is apparently owned by a very big company so they probably have agents or something monitoring the internet.
“Alright, thank you. I’ll start a Steam account right away.”
You close the stream and lean back in your chair, considering your options.
[ ] Show some skin
[ ] Learn to play video games. As a centuries-old youkai there’s no way you can fall behind mere human “gamers”.
[ ] Start doing a talent stream instead. You have some (very rusty) skills doing Persian miniatures, so you can probably leverage that.
[ ] Write-in: (Do something else while you’re at it)
>>16583 >if you have access fo the internet then I'm certain Satori does too I think you're assuming a lot there, friendo. We don't know that for certain, nor do we know what Satori really cares about beyond Parsee occupying a bridge.
>an even worse joke in the eyes of Oni Dunno where you got this, but she's not a "joke". They keep distance from her because of her inherently nasty nature and ability. Hard to blame them.
A/N: A Persian miniature is pic-related: Small paintings originally meant as book illustrations.
[x] Talent Stream: Leverage your skills painting Persian miniatures - [X] Learn to play video games on downtime to vary up the stream - [X] With/Against your doppelganger - [X] Dress Modestly.
You shake off the idea of sacrificing your dignity for views. After a cursory glance over at the “Just chatting” streams and even some of the normal gaming streams, you realize that you probably cannot compete with a lot of the women on the website in physical terms, or at the very least, in shamelessness.
This makes you quite jealous. Within a couple hours, you’ve made straw dolls with the names of the most prominent of “titty” streamers on them and have nailed them to the side of your house. You also managed to get yourself banned from most of their stream chats after making unflattering remarks about their personalities and perceived occupation as a part of the world’s old profession.
After you’ve calmed down a bit, you realize that you don’t have any art supplies in the house other than basic black ink, writing brushes and a single fountain pen (a gift from the satori). Time to go on another shopping run.
Once again, across the bridge, down the road and into Old Hell.
A decent Persian miniature requires quite a lot of bright, mineral paints and a selection of paintbrushes. And given your current state of “not having practiced within a century” you’re going to need quite a lot of paper as well. You kind of want to try out video games first, just out of curiosity, but not embarrassing yourself by painting complete messes on streams takes priority.
The oni aren’t really folks you’d consider artistically-inclined, but buildings need decorations and given typical oni behavior they get ruined on a regular basis. Thus, Old Hell sports a surprisingly lively art industry and community.
“Mizuhashi Parsee?” The oni attending the counter at the art supplies store says your name with confusion, “Ahem...what could we help you with?”
“A set of brushes, a canvas and tripod, and...” Through somewhat foggy memories, you pick out the mineral paints that Persian paintings utilize the most. The only thing absent was actual silver paint, but the contemporary Japanese equivalent was probably better since it doesn’t oxidize.
“Amazing,” The oni says as she rifles through the shelves for the paints you described, “I didn’t know that our bridgekeeper had a history in painting.”
“It’s not something I would like to remember.” You grumble.
“Okay.” The clerk knows better than to pry into your business. You’ve established your boundaries in Old Hell quite clearly when you arrived, and she’s not about to push it.
You survey the crowd once again as you wait for the clerk to can the paints from the pots they were in. Not as busy as it was during the evening. You had the presence of mind to visit when the overall foot traffic is low.
The deal you signed prohibits you from using your powers within city limits. Otherwise you may appreciate having more targets around to draw jealousy out of. You think to yourself as you once again lock your eyes with a pair of pale green ones. It’s that younger sister again, and this time she’s on the balcony of the restaurant across the street.
Slightly annoyed, you decide to confront her. “Miss Komeiji, mind if I ask why you are staring at me?”
“You look funny, Miss Mizuhashi!”
“Looking funny? Speak for yourself! You brainless hobo!”
Koishi frowns, “No, not funny like me funny. Funny like...um...uh...circus funny!”
What in the Old Hell is she talking about? “Circus funny?”
“Like, when you see a monkey climb on top of a kappa who is on a unicycle, that kind of funny. You look like that right now.”
Inane ramblings from a mindless person. You almost want to go for another insult, but decide against shouting more in the middle of the day. “Fine. Whatever you say, Miss Komeiji.”
You pay for the art supplies and head on home.
For the next couple of days, you work to shake off the rust. Painting by painting, you slowly build your skills back up to something presentable. As the final painting of a sultan you once knew comes into shape, you can’t help but feel a little bit of happiness at your progress. This must be the first time in years you felt happy at something that didn’t involve invoking jealousy in people.
But you will be doing that quite soon. Without messing with chat, your skills alone will probably make the humans quite jealous.
Meanwhile, you tried some of the “video games” that Twitch staff member sent you as a break. The lack of a second keyboard is preventing you from playing co-op by yourself, so you make a mental note to ask Metatron for one later. You go through a couple of them, but most of them feel rather restrictive. Despite the initial amazement you have at being able to interact with things in game, you quickly find that the defining feature of video games appear to be repetition: Go here, do that. Go here, do that. Well...most of them anyway.
RPGs, on the other hand, stood out for you with the amount of things you can do...namely to the people in the game. You can’t help but laugh out loud the first time you bullied a NPC into giving you his whole inventory, or the time you convinced a person to literally jump off a building with your character’s mind powers. This really makes the genre click for you, and you had to stop playing at all after a while due to video games cutting into your painting time.
If you do hop into video games. RPGs are what you’d probably stream. Maybe a co-op one like Divinity.
Once you feel ready enough to stream, you reorient the camcorder to show off your whole living room/workspace and setup a fresh sheet of paper on the canvas (traditionally, the painting was done on a table, but this was easier to present).
“Hello everyone!” You say with the most genuine smile you could muster up, “I am Mizuhashi297, and welcome to my painting stream. I am so excited to be streaming my art for the first time! Today we are painting...”
Huh, what were you going to paint today, anyway?
[ ] Something in your past life [ ] Something in your current life [ ] Something unrelated to you [ ] ...(Write-in)
[x] Something that makes you mad. Passion will win the day. Yes, it will be an artful representation of something that will ruin her calm, but what is mental health when you're creating parasocial relationships with bugfuck randoms on the internet?
[x] Something that makes you mad [x] Like a cute girl
Painting requires passion. The ten people watching your stream demands passion. Passion is how you’re going to make a great painting that will make them seethe with jealousy…
<span class="unkfunc">>Kreysurgeon: Cute elf cosplay, can you show us how you did it later? </span> Cosplay? What on earth is this human talking about? “I don’t know what cosplay is, sorry.” Is your snappy reply as you dip the paintbrush and begin the process. “First, we begin the linework." You say to your three viewers, "Persian miniatures, and by extension, similarly Japanese and Chinese-style paintings will require flowing, well-defined lines before you color things in.”
You begin painting, letting your inner seething get to work on the definitions. The features come into play one by one. Cute eyes, round and innocent unlike your narrow ones. Nice round ears unlike the ones you have that have been tapered by years of being associated with hags. An overall picture of innocence that are long gone for you.
Forever gone. From the Hell that served as your one and only home.
You let out a deep breath as one of your brushstrokes went hard enough to damage the thick paper. Muttering a bit of minor magic, you hastily mend it before resuming painting like nothing happened.
>Destiny1986: What was that flash of light?
Oh right, Outsiders don’t know magic. Even extremely minor cantrips like the ones you can do are beyond their reach. You decide to just gloss over it. “Just fixing the paper with a bit of chemicals.”
Resuming painting, you proceed to the outfit of the person. You can theoretically sketch the whole thing out with charcoal before painting, but that’s inelegant and against the spirit for this sort of art. As such, the clothing elements come in on an ad-hoc basis. A cute blouse with puffy sleeves, a short skirt, a nice bowler hat with a ribbon on top...
It’s fucking Koishi (without the third eye, but still). She’s embedded herself into your subconscious today, living rent-free in your head, and this is the result.
Refraining from groaning to yourself, you look back to see that your chat has grown from three viewers to fifteen. Reading the things people are saying to each other, it appears that you’re being regarded as “a cute elf cosplayer who does Persian paintings”, and that’s enough to draw attention.
>[Wrench Icon]Metatron: You should try to interact with your viewers more, this drives engagement. Get them involved in your work.
That staff member is in your chat again. Are they assigned to you or something?
“Okay, chat.” You put on your smile again “I’m glad to see so many of you here today. Tell me, what color do you want this girl’s hat to be?”
“Rainbow-colored” turned out to be the consensus amongst the viewers. You purse your lips and follow their decision, laboriously painting stripe after stripe onto “Koishi”’s hat. It takes well over half an hour before you are done with that part.
Wait, what are you doing? You’re here to farm jealousy, not entertain a bunch of humans!
You swap the location of the canvas so you can maintain eye contact with the camcorder. There, now you can activate your green eyes of jealousy while continuing the stream.
No sooner had you finished painting “Koishi”’s blouse a deep crimson did chat respond with the first relevant message.
>JoeMamaXD: I really wish I could paint effortlessly like that, kind of jealous
Success! You let out a slightly demented cackle as you drink deep of the person’s emotions through the screen. It’s a little acrid after traveling over the internet, but that’s jealousy, right there. Several more messages join in agreement with JoeMama, praising your work with just enough envy to induce euphoric feelings.
Yes, this is what you’ve been looking for! Good, honestly earned jealousy, done not through completely abusing your powers, but by showing these pitiful humans that you are better than them.
You pause the painting as you think to yourself a bit. Actually, isn’t this the first time someone was jealous of you? Previously you aroused jealousy between other people and drank off of that, but never towards yourself. This jealousy tastes different, it’s sweet in flavor rather than savory.
Finishing up the legs and the shoes, you decide that this is a good point to call it a day. “Thanks everyone for watching!” You say with a genuine smile on your face, “I hope you all enjoyed my art and perhaps learned something. Next stream on uh....Tuesday at 3pm, I’ll be doing the backgrounds, and you all can vote on what I draw there as well!”
>Destiny1986: [Waving emoji]
You close the stream and sit back. That was good, your first success on the internet! If you keep going, you won’t have to bother with the people that cross the bridge any more! Maybe the satori will pay you more for that? It’s a win-win situation all around, you just got to…
Who’s that with TWO THOUSAND viewers?
A middle-aged man called Bob Ross? How does he get so many viewers on the relatively low-pop art channels?
You’re seething. Your own jealousy flares up again. You cannot let this stand. Not only are you going to make a curse doll for Bob Ross, you are going to beat his channel. Or your name isn’t Parsee Mizuhashi.
[ ] Aim to surpass Bob Ross in his own field! Keep doing painting streams non-stop. No way a human can trump you in painting streams. [ ] Diversify instead, try out a gaming stream next time = [ ] Ask Metatron to ship you gaming equipment for another person = [ ] Pull out your doppelganger and introduce it as your twin [ ] Do something else (in addition, perhaps). Write-in.
>>16598 ><span class="unkfunc">>Kreysurgeon: Cute elf cosplay, can you show us how you did it later? </span> alright something's fucky with the formatting , is it just me getting this html shit It's there in the bit where she's on 4chan too
[X] Diversify instead, try out a gaming stream next time I feel like the twin stuff can wait, gotta get ourselves established before doing gimmick streams (dollhouse waiting room)
[X] Diversify instead, try out a gaming stream next time
Agree with the Anon, establish yourself as a streamer before you get your(other)self involved in streaming. Building a community up to then garner the sweet collected jealousy of the big 'sister' reveal.
[X] Diversify instead, try out a gaming stream next time -[X] Dont make the Bob Ross doll Twins can wait, we can clearly do well enough without it so there's no need to use it as a crutch. Also, write in related, because I refuse to let Bob Ross he abused in vain. If parsee should be jealous if anyone its whoever keeps streaming old episodes.
[X] Diversify instead, try out a gaming stream next time = [X] Ask Metatron to ship you gaming equipment for another person = [X] Don’t make the Bob Ross doll = [X] watch a couple episodes of the Bob Ross stream
Hey, why are you getting worked up over a human anyway? Instead, maybe you should learn some tricks from his stream to see how did he get that many views. With this justification in mind, you open up Bob Ross’s stream.
It’s him. Painting. The resolution is also pretty terrible compared to your stream. Like, can’t he afford to get a decent camcorder or something?
His paintings are fairly nice though. Masterpieces? Nah, you wager you can paint better than him. What he’s got however is speed, pumping out complete paintings every half-hour. Even in your prime, you can’t paint that fast...or perhaps you never practiced painting at that speed.
He also pretty much never stops talking, constantly explicating what his techniques are and making small talk with the audience about the painting. This makes your jealousy flare up again. How come this human can talk so smoothly at a constant pace like that? The quality of his engagement with the users is incredible.
Maybe if you bothered socializing more you can do that too.
Slightly seething, you scroll down to the description. “Robert Norman "Bob" Ross was an American painter, art instructor, and television host. He was best known as the creator and host of The Joy of Painting...”
Confused, you type his name into Google. The Wikipedia entry pops up: “Robert Norman Ross (October 29, 1942 – July 4, 1995).” So he’s been dead for 20 years? Is his ghost streaming? Are ghosts allowed to stream on Twitch?
You type your confusing questions into the chat.
>josegordo: These are replayed recordings lol
You (and to be fair, every other art streamer) are getting crushed in views by the recordings of a dead man.
Slamming your fist on the table, you huff and try to shake off the ill-feeling. There’s no point in making a doll now since he’s not even here. But now you can see that there’s a near-insurmountable cliff in front of your art streaming career that’s a man with a perm.
You’re going to have to diversify into gaming. A variety streamer could probably cop more views than someone who only streams art.
Closing the stream, you decide that now’s probably a good idea to get some fresh air. You open the door, take two steps, and stumble over a box.
You don’t recall asking Twitch to ship you more stuff, but there it is, another package in front of your door with that smile logo on it. Tearing it open, you look with shock at a peripheral keyboard and two gaming controllers.
It would’ve made sense if Twitch shipped you the devices so you can play some of the games in your gifted Steam list, such as the fighting games that you have had real trouble playing on a keyboard. But why did they send you two? You were planning on streaming with your doppelganger eventually, but you never told anyone this for obvious reasons.
This is kind of weird...but hey, free stuff is free stuff. You take the box in and add the peripherals to the ever-increasing sprawl of electronics that occupy your once empty kitchen table.
Now, what to do next? You have another stream the day after tomorrow, but you don’t quite feel like going back to your usual routine of harassing travellers over the bridge. Feels somewhat tacky now that you’ve tasted the nectar of virtual jealousy.
After that, you’re going to switch over to gaming for a bit, and test the waters in that area.
[ ] Ooooh, What’s this “Dollhouse” stream happening right now? It seems oddly popular despite apparently not being a gaming stream.
[ ] Maybe you’ll take on that supplies store clerk’s offer to show up at the art club. You could use some more socialization training and practice with your paintings.
[ ] Practice gaming. Don’t wanna embarrass yourself on stream too much and lose out on jealousy.
[x] Maybe you’ll take on that supplies store clerk’s offer to show up at the art club. You could use some more socialization training and practice with your paintings.
The gaming's just a way to switch things up and maybe — unlikely as it is — pull in some non-intersecting audience segments. Winning any kind of viewer share's going to be a grind regardless, so stay the course and get better at the main selling point.
[X] Practice gaming. Don’t wanna embarrass yourself on stream too much and lose out on jealousy.
>>16609 You're not wrong, but it would be incredibly frustrating to try to watch someone who doesn't even know the basics of how to play a video game. I got mad and stopped watching Gura pretty quickly because she took forever to learn how to play RimWorld, and she's actually played video games before.
>Dollhouse option jerma isn't real he can't be in my fanfictions
Wait, we have clones right? Why don't we get both Parsees to do something different?
>>16613 Changing my vote to: [x] Maybe you’ll take on that supplies store clerk’s offer to show up at the art club. You could use some more socialization training and practice with your paintings. And [x] Practice gaming. Don’t wanna embarrass yourself on stream too much and lose out on jealousy.
>>16598 >Forever gone. From the Hell that served as your one and only home.
Hey, I know that one. "Though it may hurt today / tomorrow I'll be heading my way."
>>16611 Guar Gura of Hololive EN, a 9000+ year old little shark girl from Atlantis; currently the most subscribed Vtuber in the world at well over three million subscribers and has a cameo in a Taco Bell advertisement of all the things. (To be fair to >>16610, her speciality is rhythm games, so she doesn't have as much experience with real-time strategy/colony builders.)
[x] Practice gaming. Don’t wanna embarrass yourself on stream too much and lose out on jealousy. Who knows, perhaps Parsee has incredible Minesweeper skills or something.
[X] Practice gaming. Don’t wanna embarrass yourself on stream too much and lose out on jealousy.
Sweetened tea? Check.
Seasoned rice in the pot? Check.
Snug bathrobe? Check.
Yep, it’s hashihime gamer time.
You start off by watching several of the most popular gaming streams currently on Twitch. There appear to be two types of gamers here: “Professionals” who stream to show off their high skill levels, and more amateur gamers who play a wide variety of games and rely more on their personal charm to maintain a userbase. As far as you can tell anyway.
They are not that much different than normal entertainers after all. Their choice of art is simply a digital game rather than a traditional medium. Still, this is all relatively new stuff to you, so it takes you a while to process how a gaming stream should go down.
You’ve already decided that you’re going to stream RPGs, games with dialogue and choices. While you would progress further in Divinity, you decide it might be a better idea to save some content for the stream lest you are forced to pretend that you are going through a game for the first time. Thus, the move is to try out the tutorials of all the games in your library...and that one game not in your Steam library that Twitch sent you. Minecraft.
This takes a long time, like, a very long time.
You forgot to sleep as you were genuinely having fun trying out all these games. By the time the caffeine in the tea have fried your brain enough to develop a heavy tolerance to the substance you realize that it was morning the next day.
It’s hard to keep track of the day and night underground. The luminescence cycle of the fungi helps, but is far less noticeable than the sun, for example. However, even with the Artificial Sun now enforcing the cycle, you still managed to ignore it.
Video games really are something else, aren’t they? With limp fingers you click through the last couple paragraphs of dialogue in the tutorial, and then pass out.
You stir. Looking out the window, it appears that it is night again. You panic for a brief moment as you thought that you’ve missed your next stream date, then sign in relief as it turns out that it is still Monday.
“Coming!” You yawn out as you stumble towards the door. Opening the door, you see a pair of cat ears, a lot of braided red hair, and a fairly innocuous looking face concealing smugness.
“Miss Kaenbyou, what brings you to my door...ah...” You can’t help but let out another yawn. “...At this hour?”
The kasha leans over to look into your house, while you maneuver to block her view, “I’m just making the rounds for Master Satori to check on Old Hell’s infrastructure. Recently there’s been an absence of complaints about hashihime harassment on the bridge so I’m stopping by to see if you’re sick or something.”
You frown, “Wouldn’t an absence of complaints be the opposite of something to investigate?”
“Not when you’re the bridgekeeper. Are you sure you’re not sick, by the way?” Orin takes a step inside. Then another one. “If it wasn’t for Master Koishi spotting you during your brief trips in the city, we might have thought that you were dead.”
You hopelessly move to try and cover up the electronics all over your dining table. Luckily, Orin doesn’t appear to recognize them, or she does but is not remarking. “I’m working on some projects in my house right now. They’re uh...paintings. I’m trying to refresh an old skill of mine.”
“Painting?” Orin looks over and sees the canvas with the picture of not!Koishi on it. “Whoa! I never knew you knew how to paint! And I’ve known you for what, two centuries at least by now?”
Right, just from dealing with Komeiji in regards to your job, you have to count Orin as an acquaintance, “It’s something I learned and neglected, a long time ago.”
“That’s a really nice painting.” She seems genuine about it too, with her cat-eyes beaming. “You planning on displaying and selling these things?”
“I’m still practicing. And I don’t want to throw out something half-baked.” You subtly nudge Orin back towards the door. “I’ll...see about that in the future.”
“Well, in that case, everything seems alright...you do sound a lot nicer than you usually are though.”
“Ugh, just go away please.” And with that, you shut the door in her face. Back to gaming.
“WHAT IS IT NOW ORIN?” You angrily shout out as you throw the door open. “WHAT—-”
Nothing. No one’s here.
Nope, nothing, not even the vague sense of unease from the younger satori.
Is the sleep deprivation playing tricks on your brain now?
[ ] Take a quick nap before you stream again. [ ] Go back to gaming, gotta keep your mind active. [ ] Do something else. Write-in.
[X] Gather yourself, turn around, glare around imperiously at the room and demand that they show themselves. - The "I know you're there" gambit always works. Either someone is and you look like a badass genius, or they arent, and nobody sees you talking to an empty room. Win win.
Sleep deprivation is definitely playing tricks on your brain.
Setting the alarm clock to one hour before your stream time, you plop into your futon and pass out again.
==== You awake. Everything is dark.
That’s odd, it should be the afternoon, you check your alarm clock...which is cracked, and the clockwork mechanisms are sticking out of the bronze casing.
That’s really strange. You look outside your window. Complete and utter darkness blankets the cave. Not even the luminescent fungi seem to be glowing.
You’re a hashihime though, so you can see in the dark to some degree, but this is still really inconvenient. You tug on the string for the new electric lights you had installed after the reactor went up...and nothing.
So no light sources are working. Great. What sort of magical incident is going on this time? Grumbling to yourself, you get dressed, open the door and step outside.
The unnatural darkness closes in on you like a curtain over a window. For a brief moment you are motivated to head back into your house and shut the door behind you. But it’s dark inside as well. Steeling yourself, you begin crossing the bridge towards Old Hell, where you can hopefully get some answers, or at the very least get close to that hell raven who can conjure suns.
It is quiet.
You pass nobody on the bridge. Not an oni, not another youkai, not even an animal passes you by as you carefully make your way across. The winds which blow through the great cavern are still as well. There is nobody here moving but you. In fact, given how dead-looking the plants and fungi are, you could even say that you’re the only one alive here.
Such assertions do nothing good for your nerves.
You cross the opened gates and onto the cobbles of the city. Still nobody. The streets are completely deserted. The storefronts and houses at the side of the streets are dark and silent. The city is completely dead. No sounds of oni shouting. No drunken people stumbling down the streets. No incoherent singing from the bars.
It is at this point that you feel a prickling sensation on your back. The closer you get to the city’s center, the more the feeling intensifies. It is also at this point that you noticed a strange sort of structure spearing through the darkness above the city. They resemble tree branches, but have no leaves, and are much larger than any tree you’ve seen before, aboveground and below. Also, they appear strangely vibrant, even through your not-so-good darkvision, standing out from the overall grayscale that the environment is otherwise in.
The branches spiderweb out from the direction of the Underground Geyser Center. As you make your way in that direction, you notice the branches getting thicker...and wetter. Water drips down from them like raindrops, wetting your hair and clothes. Your need for answers (and though you are loath to admit it, somebody to talk to) supercedes your discomfort, and you press on with renewed fervor.
The Geyser Center is dark. The Artificial Sun is off. However, you are relieved as you see masses of people gathered around the facility. They’ve probably all came here to try and get close to the sun as possible.
“Hey!” You call out as you start to run. “People! This is your bridgekeeper, what’s going on?”
That’s when you notice the massive tree trunk occupying the nuclear reactor. It is bulbous and unsightly, and through the darkness it is giving off an unnatural color that is making you physically ill.
That’s also when the nearest members of the crowd turn to look at you, and their mouths DISTEND TO REVEAL A SICKLY GLOW WITHIN--
You scream, throwing your blanket all the way across the room. Huff, huff. You catch your breath after a minute of hyperventilating. It takes you another couple of seconds to realize that the ringing in your ear is the alarm clock going off.
You look out the window. Utsuho’s artificial sun is glowing bright, fit for the afternoon.
Pushing yourself upright, you saunder over to the wash basin to clean yourself off and fix your hair, before turning back towards your living room.
Your messy streaming setup is beckoning you to turn it on. The half-completed painting of not!Koishi is still waiting for you to finish it. It’s still an hour until your promised streaming time, but you don’t really have anything to do other than a late lunch right now.
[ ] Stream yourself eating lunch [ ] Stream yourself making lunch [ ] Stream yourself making AND eating lunch [ ] Write-In!
“Hi everyone! Mizuhashi297 here. It’s an hour before the stream starts but I’d thought it’s a good time for a quick food stream!”
Are food streams a thing? You don’t know, but the five people who hopped in after your stream started certainly think so as you move the camcorder into your kitchen. Five actual people thought it was worth their time to watch a random hashihime stream her hurried lunch cooking. Well, better impress them a little.
“I’m making fried rice with a lot of eggs, and turmeric and angelica to spice it up a bit.” You say to your audience as you dump the cold seasoned rice into the wok with a generous helping of oil.
The eggs go in not soon after, their splashes of yellow blending in with the already seasoned rice. There is little need for a spatula to stir the rice, as you’ve practiced a fancy motion throughout your centuries of isolated living to shake the rice and eggs high up into the air and back down onto the wok without a single grain of it landing outside.
Such is the benefit of a long life, you suppose.
Throwing in some green onions and regular onions as an afterthought, along with even more spices because the seasoned rice totally wasn’t seasoned enough, you keep “flipping” the rice until the eggs are browning.
>DanteIsFeatured: Yo, why are you using a wood stove? I’ve only seen those in museums
You haven’t bothered replacing your traditional stove with one of the kappa’s new electric ones, taking advantage of the practically free electricity coming out of the Nuclear Furnace run by that hell raven. They’re too expensive in your opinion, especially given the kappa’s penchant for price-gouging. Way cheaper to rely on the now plentiful agricultural waste and the always plentiful coal.
“Um...” Right, they assumed you are an Outside World human, just like them, “I’m using a wood stove because I like the way the heat spreads on it...and I don’t have a gas line. Teehee!”
That was a horrible way to handle it, but the viewers seem pacified by the answer. Pouring the fried rice onto a plate, you hold it up in front of the camcorder.
>Joonbob: Oooh, that looks nice
>Hjarkbjorn: I’m hungry now, damn you
Quite a bit of jealousy from such a small act. Turns out love and jealousy are alike: Both can be extracted from a human by hitting them in the stomach. You can’t help but giggle as you feel it through the screen. Now this fried rice would be even tastier for you.
Normally you’d plop down on the leather-backed high chair you got second-hand from Satori and just chow down on the rice, but now you are compelled to make more of a presentation. Taking out a jar of pickled vegetables, you carefully arrange them in an aesthetically pleasing mound next to the rice. A single smoked fish fillet is then added to the dish, completing the look and giving the hurried lunch an air of luxury that makes it feel like it belongs in an upscale restaurant.
Returning the camcorder to the living room, you position it right in front of you, with the food in between you and your viewers. Clacking the chopsticks, you smile and say, “Well, time to eat! Thank you for the food~”
You begin eating at a measured pace, with none of the large bites you usually take when eating alone. With each chopstick-full of rice, you make sure to let out small “mmm”s and “umm”s of pleasure, just to elicit that extra bit of jealousy from the viewers. The count has increased to ten at this point, presumably from the people waiting for your painting stream, and the non-aggressive jealousy coming through the screen is quite palpable.
Normally, remotely eliciting jealousy through things like letters only gives you tiny, barely-noticeable feelings. But each person you feel admiring your food and worrying about their own growling stomachs are contributing almost as much as a couple you personally helped break apart. Is it because you have a relationship, however parasocial it might be, with them?
Continuing eating, you keep an eye on the chat.
>Doobiewudder: Mizuhashi is cute. CUTE!
>WolfgangMozart: [Drooling emoji]
>JhodonSwaggins: What’s with the impromptu mukbang?
“What is a mukbang?” You can’t help but ask with a full mouth at the unfamiliar word.
>JhodonSwaggins: Eating stream where you talk to viewers regularly. You don’t know that?
It’s all new to you. Interaction, eh? “Hmm...what are your guys’s favorite things to eat?”
>Doobiewudder: Pad Thai
>Hjarkbjorn: You <3
Okay...that may have been a mistake.
>Joonbob: [Kreygasm] [OMEGALUL]
>Doobiewudder: [gachiHYPER] [gachiHYPER]
Did that Hjarkbjorn user seriously just try to hit on you in stream chat? You stare at the message in disbelief for a few moments, and then quietly resume eating as if nothing happened. What’s wrong with these people, don’t they know that hitting on a hashihime is…
Oh right, they don’t know.
>WolfgangMozart: Oh no we scared her
Cleaning your plate, you pour yourself a shot of sake and chug it. Wiping off your mouth, you turn the camcorder to the side and say, with some gravitas. “Now, let’s finish this painting, shall we?”
You’re going to let chat decide, but you should still start off the general theme of the background for your not!Koishi portrait.
[ ] Some happy little clouds, and some happy little trees. [ ] DEATH AND HELLFIRE [ ] Go abstract [ ] Write-in:
Nah, you’ve got better things to do with your time. Such as turning your full attention to the delicate line-work of the flowers you are painting around the figure of that loathsome girl. A curvy stroke here, a straight stem there, and the wild roses soon blossom under your brush.
You make sure to exaggerate the thorns on the roses to highlight the actual nature of your subject compared to her innocent-looking exterior. By the time you dilute the brush to paint in the interior, the background resembles more of a bramble bush than a rose garden. Appropriate for Koishi, you think to yourself gleefully.
She’s still occupying a rather rent-free room in your head.
Coloring is always fun. When you color, you don’t really have to think about the positions of the composition, only if the colors will match up well with the rest of the painting. Enough of your brain is unoccupied that you whistle a tune for yourself and your audience...an old, old tune long lost to the tides of history.
>Hjarkbjorn: Cute voice!
>Yujin444: Who are you using as a model for this anyway?
“Just some stock photo I came across on the internet, can’t find it now though.” You reply. Mixing with the humans on Twitch has given you a decent grasp of what you can get away with by posing as an “elf cosplayer”.
>UbertoLoz: What made you decide on roses anyway?
“It’s a neutral but cute element that will blend in nicely with the background elements YOU guys get to pick!” You enthusiastically say, watching your viewership tick up to 30 people while you dab on the last few splotches of red. “There! Now that the roses are done, what would you like to see between them! I will pick the most popular option from the chat.”
And so on and so on. They really seem to want you to draw this weird bug-eyed cartoon frog. Oh well. You can’t argue against democracy for this since you did promise them that they would get to participate.
“Weird Cartoon Frogs, coming up for you folks.” You dab the brush in the green reservoir on your pallet and start drawing the outlines of the frog face. “I don’t know why you guys like it so much though, especially since it blends in with the rose stems…”
>JhodonSwaggins: OH SHE’S DOING IT
>ValentinTheDoorHolder: [Kreygasm] We did it chat! [Kreygasm]
Huh, were they expecting you to reject it? It’s just a throwaway painting you’re doing for fun. Who cares if it is occupied by a weird cartoon frog anyway?
You can’t help but get the feeling that you’ve just been used though. Like a candle. Do the candles look forward to being used? Do well-wishers enjoy bidding adieu, adieu? Do artists enjoy painting requests, no matter how absurd?
Wait no, stop thinking about those abstract things Parsee. You’re here for the jealousy. You’re here to make them feel bad about themselves and feel envious towards you! If they want you to paint frogs, you’re going to paint the best cartoon frogs they’ve seen!
On each of the heads, you add some delicate shading, absent from the rest of the pictures. The greens blend into each other, giving off an impression of wetness appropriate for a frog’s skin. For the eyes, you take a brief moment to cross reference Google for pictures of frog eyes. Sure they are still bulging and disproportionate, but with the power of realism you render the eyes into the stony slits that frog eyes actually are. You still make them stare off to the side, that part is staying.
And that blue shirt under it. Why not make it a scarf? With flowing strokes you detail out a unique scarf for each and every one of the frog heads between the rose bushes. You make sure they look extra comfy, just so they can perhaps elicit a last bit of envy from the viewers.
All of this, in half an hour.
>UbertoLoz: Rare pepes acquired
>Yujin444: Wow, that was really fast, and you made it so different too!
>Hjarkbjorn: You going to post this to deviantart or pixiv or some place?
>ValentinTheDoorHolder: Or Twitter! Lots of artists put their stuff on Twitter!
>Yujin444: No! Twitter is a massive shithole, why are you telling her that?
Uploading your art online...hmm. You know that people will upload images and artwork online, but for you to do it yourself for your own amateur work. Well, with the internet, surely SOME talentless humans are going to get jealous of your paintings, right?
You center the camcorder on the painting and crack open the window for some better lighting. Under these mostly ideal conditions, you take a snapshot of your work.
The file appears so unimpressive compared to the physical Persian miniature, but opening it up reveals a mostly accurate photo. There’s a little distortion, but nothing too big for an amateur work.
Now, where to put your this digital copy of your painting with not!Koishi, roses, and cartoon frogs?
[ ] Venture onto Twitter [ ] Onwards to Pixiv. [ ] Maybe look for a more professional site? - [ ] Show this painting off to the oni, might as well farm some IRL envy - [ ] Wait, what was that noise coming from outside? [ ] Write-in
more mirrors more better, put your shit everywhere, including putting stream vods onto youtube after making Mizuhashi297 accounts to separate them from personal accounts, and only use those for stream-identity related purposes, not for your own browsing. That said, in terms of 'where to go first', I'll vote for [x] Onwards to Pixiv.
Probably finish up the stream and say you'll be setting up the account after, and then when it's set up link it from your twitch page, and mention it at the start of your next stream
[ ] Maybe look for a more professional site? later, you've got two streams under your belt, a custom Mizu297 site can wait until you actually get more than ten viewers
- [X] Show this painting off to the oni. Might as well farm some IRL envy
- [X] Wait, what was that noise coming from outside?
You throw open the door. Again. Nothing is there. It was such a queer sound too, something like the combination of a machine whirring and the sound of a horse neighing.
It just blared out again.
Your eyes follow your ears to the edge of the area generally considered to be your yard. There, nestled amongst the hyacinths you planted to add some thematically appropriate decor to the area around the bridge, is a curious-looking sapling.
It looks kind of like a maple tree, but is oddly red. Every so often it shakes and produces that annoying sound. Is it a newborn youkai of some sort? You’re definitely not putting up with a youkai tree in your yard.
[ ] Chop down the sapling and burn it. [ ] Leave it be. [ ] Get somebody who knows what they’re doing to take a look at this later.
After you make a decision on what to do with the sapling, you head back inside and hop back onto the stream. “Sorry guys, had to deal with something. So, you want me to upload it onto Twitter? I’ll go ahead and do that.”
Making a Twitter account is pretty easy, just sign-up with your email and your phone number. Just how is this thing getting reception inside the Border anyway? Regardless, you log in and set up a quick profile.
Wow, people on Twitter really like talking about all sorts of random things, even more so than imageboards. Most of them are posting under their full real names too! That’s quite bold of them. Even you, who’s been open about your need for jealousy, didn’t think to use your full name.
You’re just here to post art though. So, after learning how to properly do it in a two-minute video, you upload your painting under the @Mizuhashi297 account and a selected, jealousy-invoking message.
“Hi guys, new artist here. I just started practicing painting Persian miniatures and this is my first painting. Please be gentle!”
There, that ought to bait some of the more gullible humans.
With your painting dry, you gingerly pack it up into your knapsack. Even though it is just a practice painting you did as a throwaway, it is still the first painting you’ve done in a while. As loath as you are to admit it, you’ve gotten rather attached to this portrait of not-Koishi, roses, and cartoon frogs.
“Alright guys, that’s it for the stream today! Thank you guys so much for watching!”
With this, you step out of your house with your head held high. It’s not anything too significant, but it’s the first time you’ve made something by yourself in a long time. If you cared about such things like a common human, you might’ve regarded it as a step in self-improvement.
You don’t, you have not been a human for very a long time.
The streets of Old Hell seem less crowded today than usual, at least from your perspective. Your presence amongst the oni also do not seem like they have as much of a Moses parting the Red Sea effect. Maybe it’s because of how you’re looking, gingerly handling your pack and tripod?
The oni artists are gathered in the main hall of a building which generally serves the purpose of community center. As in, it has a lot of empty halls for people to use, not that it serves any social purpose outside of events. Even from outside, you can hear the noise of the rowdy oni discussing their projects in their usual loud voices. It sounds even more intense than their usual conversations at bars.
“Oh hey, Miss Mizuhashi!” The clerk from the art supplies store catches sight of you wavering outside the door. “Did you bring a painting to present?”
“Um...yeah.” You are nervous. You can’t quite remember the last time you presented something in-person.
“Well don’t just stand there then, come right in!” The clerk eagerly ushers you into the building, even taking the tripod off of you and carrying it for you.
The inside of the hall is just as you expected. Each artist has set up their own little stall where they display their works, and most of them appear to be loudly arguing with impromptu critics over what the art is about and what possible aesthetic value they could be contributing to a building. Oni are blunt, straightforward folk, and there is little of the philosophical navel-gazing you’d likely find at a human art gathering. No, they’re mostly just concerned about the general prettiness of a painting and if it fits in with the decor.
You do however acutely notice that eyes falling upon you tend to linger as you walk through the hall with the clerk. “The bridgekeeper is here?” “I thought she almost never left that place.” “What is she doing at an art show?” Such comments can be heard murmured from the oni in uncharacteristically quiet tones. Strangely though, you pick up some vague hints of jealousy...how?
“Excellent, here’s an empty spot, lemme help you set up. Wow, I really didn’t think that you of all people would show up here.” The clerk babbles on as she sets up the tripod for you. “Hey everyone! Miss Mizuhashi is here to present a painting she made!”
“Not so loud!” Social anxiety is getting to you a little bit, but you swallow your fear as much as you can. Can’t let an opportunity for some “white” jealousy to slip away.
A following of oni had already been following you out of curiosity, and with the clerk’s loud declaration you suddenly gain a small crowd around your “stall” area. With trembling arms, you wave at them as a greeting, unable to force out more than a mumbled “Hi!” through your mouth. The amount of people staring at you is sorely tempting you to use your power on them, but you suppress that urge as well. Only honest jealousy today.
Removing the painting from your pack, you gingerly place it on the tripod. The crowd instantly swarms closer, which is quite understandable given the size of a Persian miniature.
“Wow, is that the younger Komeiji sister?”
“That background is so detailed, but what’s with those child-like frogs?”
“Those frogs are amazing! Hey, do you mind me making a copy of this? This would be perfect for my studio!”
“It’s so vibrant! This is a non-Japanese style, right?”
You are struck numb. They’re actually praising you! Your scrappy little Persian miniature is actually rather popular! You can feel numerous traces of minor jealousy through the praise, so they’re not just coddling you for being a hikikomori under a bridge either. Not that oni are particularly known for coddling.
“Yeah, this is Persian-style.” You begin stammering out, “It’s a miniature, to be specific, usually meant for illustrations in our books and--”
“Hey, hey! Miss Mizuhashi!” A particularly excited young oni in glasses leaps at the front of the crowd, “What got you into painting? We all thought your only interest was taunting couples crossing the bridge!”
Come up with a reason other than “I’m streaming art on this thing called the internet!”
[ ] “I just felt inspired to draw something, you know?” [ ] “I wanted to show how I’m not just someone hiding under a bridge.” [ ] Write-in.
[X] Something about how a conversation got you buttmad and so out of spite you're shaking the rust off of old skills to prove you still got it. 'oh I just felt like drawing' or 'oh I wanted to put myself out there', such obvious lies. "I did it out of spite," now that's believable.
or, I guess, you could answer the question as 'what originally got you into painting', as opposed to why you're painting now, I don't know enough about Parsee to come up with a write in for that.
[X] Get somebody who knows what they’re doing to take a look at this later. [X] Something about how a conversation got you buttmad and so out of spite you're shaking the rust off of old skills to prove you still got it.
We aren't qualified to deal with that tree, but we are qualified to farm jealousy, this is a goddamn warm up painting.
[X] Something about how a conversation got you buttmad and so out of spite you're shaking the rust off of old skills to prove you still got it. 'oh I just felt like drawing' or 'oh I wanted to put myself out there', such obvious lies. "I did it out of spite," now that's believable. - [X] Get somebody who knows what they’re doing to take a look at this later. Tire breaking
[X] Get somebody who knows what they’re doing to take a look at this later. [X] Something about how a conversation got you buttmad and so out of spite you're shaking the rust off of old skills to prove you still got it.
“It’s simple. I de-rusted my old skills and did this out of spite.” You say to the crowd, and the glasses oni in particular “Somebody told me just that a few weeks back, and I am determined to prove that person wrong! No one calls Mizuhashi Parsee a mere jealous NEET and gets away with it!”
“Who was that person?”
“Er…” You speak of the first entity that comes to your mind. “A human named Bob Ross.”
“Bob Ross? Sounds like a foreigner.”
“A human? We would’ve known if a foreigner human came down here.”
“A mere human decided to confront a hashihime? How daring of him!”
Oh crud. You cover your mouth in shame as you realized what you’ve just blurted out. Again, you’ve let someone (who’s not even alive this time) live rent-free in your head and disturb you. But are you really lying? While you did start painting just to stream, seeing Bob Ross’s stream numbers really got you motivated to try new things.
Might as well keep the narrative going. “I don’t know where Bob Ross came from, but I saw him and his afro coming down the bridge. I tried to do my usual thing on him, but he shrugged it off. Instead, he laughed at me in his weird, mockingly gentle tone, and said that it is so sad that I’m just living under a bridge and trying to feed off of the jealousy of passersby, and asked me if I did anything else. I shouted at him that I know how to paint. He then laughed at me again and said that I’ll have to catch up to him and then he just disappeared! Poof! A human saying that my skills need to catch up to him? Preposterous. Wouldn’t you be angry too?”
“Wow, Bob Ross sounds like a really powerful person.”
“A human said that? Amazing! I would like to drink with him one day.”
“Well I might be angry, but I would also give that human a pat on the back for his honesty.”
Grrr. The damn oni are appreciating your made-up version of Bob Ross! Well, in retrospect you did subconsciously mix what you saw on stream with an oni, so you should have seen this coming, really.
“...Anyways, I’m going to be doing a lot more paintings. So...” The jealousy harvest here is good, you can’t deny it. “...I’m going to show up here in the future as well.”
The oni continue to cluster around the painting for quite a while. Some of them take out tengu-made cameras and snap pictures of your painting for their reference later. Some of them continue to ask questions about Bob Ross, (How old was he? Did he have a lot of muscles?) to which you answer as best as you can from your gleanings of his stream.
You’ve even got a few offers to buy the painting! There’s a rich oni looking to spice up their second house and a bar owner who’s recently had a bunch of decorations smashed in a brawl. Money is money, so you sell it off for roughly five days worth of wages for you. You did look up how much Persian miniatures generally sell for in the Outside World beforehand, our of curiosity, so you are confident that you got a good deal on this.
As you count your coin, you sit down on a nearby chair. Good, just sit back and feed off of the passive jealousy, that’s what you’re here for, right?
“Are you really just going to sit there?”
Hmm? You look up. A familiar man with an afro is standing in front of you.
“If you’re satisfied with what you have right now, you won’t improve.” He says, twirling a paintbrush in his hand.
“Do I look like someone who improves?” You gruffly state, “I’m a hashihime.”
“You’re improving already, but if you stop now and remain where you are, that’s no good.”
This person is annoying you, “Just because you’re ahead of me in views doesn’t mean you get to make my life decisions.”
The man stops twirling his brush, “Tell you what. If you diversify into new things and keep improving yourself, I’ll let you catch up to me. Deal?”
“Look, I’m not—-”
“Miss Mizuhashi! Miss Mizuhashi!”
Eh? You slowly open your eyes. A young oni is standing in front of you. You’ve dozed off. Geez, you really need to catch up on sleep after painting and gaming so much the past couple of days.
“Can you come check out my painting? I’m trying to go for a Western style and I could use some pointers.”
“You’re asking me? Kid?” You’re about to reject his request as per usual, but stop, “Okay, let me see it then.”
The kid’s painting is rather not good. A simple landscape piece that doesn’t really resemble a landscape. You’re unfamiliar with an actual European-style painting, but you do give him some advice on basic color composition (More vibrant colors! We’re not in Hei’an) and perspective (Those trees in the back are way too big). By the time you are done talking to him and physically correcting some of the flaws with your brush, the painting is somewhat more well-adjusted, and the kid seems quite happy.
“You’re amazing, Miss Mizuhashi! I didn’t know that a bridge troll had so much talent!”
“Bridge troll? Why...” You stop again as you are taken aback by a strong surge. The kid’s last sentence positively dripped with innocent envy. “Why of course I do, I’ve only had several hundred years of experience, after all.”
The art show wraps up, and you watch your scrappy painting being placed in a designated carrying case. You buy some of those cases yourself with your art profit, now that you’re going to be regularly doing paintings and all that.
“Way to go. You did amazing for a first-timer.” The clerk says, patting you on the back as you exit the building.
“I’m not really a first-timer...”
“First-timer at the show. I mean. Hey, why don’t we go grab a drink together to celebrate your first art sale?”
[ ] Stay in the city for a bit longer, you’ve got coin to spend. [ ] Better head back and deal with that tree.
[X] Better head back and deal with that tree. I wanna hear about it getting in a happy lil' accident, see? I want it to take root at a nice orchard downstate. On a separate note, while that definitely wasn't the real bob ross, I choose to believe that Parsee has just sewn the seeds for an incident involving him, and started the overarching plot of the next few touhou games in the process. Dont care if its true or not, I'm gonna believe it anyway.
You watch the Youkai of Four Seasons grow increasingly frustrated as she paces around the tree, surveying its composition and fingering its leaves.
“An American Red Maple...why is it here?” Yuuka mutters to herself as she takes a leaf off to examine it.
“A tree from the west? That is indeed odd.”
“And it’s making such a ghastly noise too, like--”
“--That. And do you know the oddest part?” The flower youkai says as she strolls around the sapling one more time.
“This tree isn’t a youkai tree. In fact, I can find no logical reason as to why it is making that noise.”
“Not a youkai tree?” You scratch your head, “Well, if even you are stumped, perhaps this is a sort of packaged enigma?”
“Indeed.” Yuuka leans down, and plunges her hands into the earth. With an effortless movement she scoops up the whole of the sapling, roots and all along with a big chunk of your yard. “So if you won’t mind, I would like to take this child with me to examine it more.”
[X] Let Yuuka take it for her own experiments. [ ] Burn it Yeah, as if Yuuka would let you do that
“Sure, go ahead, as long as it’s not making noise outside my door.”
You send off Yuuka at the mouth of the cave to the underworld, then turn back. You’ve grown rather fat on jealousy today, it is time to head home and digest all of those emotions with a nice nap.
Your house seems quieter than usual, though that’s probably because the tree is no longer making that god-awful noise. Settling down on the old armchair, you pop open the cork on the bottle of cheap sake that you keep a stash of and take a nice, deep draught.
And you gag. This stuff tastes worse than it usually does.
Maybe you should treat yourself to some better stuff sometimes. You take a look around your house. All secondhand furniture bought from the oni since you arrived in Japan and turned from a bridge khrafstra into a hashihime. Most of them have been replaced once or twice just due to wear and tear, but never had they ever seated or served anyone but you.
People don’t stay in your house under the bridge.
You take another drink, and gag again. The sake is not going down any easier.
What are you doing with your life, anyway? You’ve spent most of it harassing people crossing the bridges you lived under, but now that you reflect on it, you haven’t really gotten anything other than jealousy from it. Sure, jealousy is good and all, but you haven’t really improved anything even in the field of ruining people’s relationships. Just apply your power, scare them a little, and the jealousy comes out.
All this new self-centered jealousy that you are harvesting now is something you have not done before.
You re-cork the bottle and set it down. Time to eat a little bit and hit the sack. Oh right! You should check up on what reactions your painting on Twitter is provoking. Surely you’ve netted some more jealousy from the people on that platform.
> @suku009: wow, this is really pretty!
> @huihuang: a new artist in the Middle Eastern style! Followed
Appreciation, but not much jealousy.
> @yuriK78: Um, isn’t this cultural appropriation?
> @TylerTheFoz: Yeah, somebody called Mizuhashi calling their painting a "Persian" Miniature seems kinda sus
> @Lolking: That’s a yikes from me chief
[ ] Explain yourself to the Twitter users that you’re Persian. [ ] Ignore them. If they’re not jealous of you they’re not worth your time.
Being an epic, lying Twitter troll would be more Seija's shtick. Farming jealousy from engaging with the enraged Twitter mobs can work when Parsee has had some substantial success - gaining either a sizable enough or ardent enough follower-base. Right now it's not worth the fuss to make up a lie that can backfire later. Engage with positive folks and ignore virtue signallers; I trust she's got enough experience enduring contempt and insults. Incidentally she may gain some jealousy from onlookers by gracefully brushing off the complaints of obnoxious twats.
What the heck is up with that tree, forreal.
[x] Ignore them. If they’re not jealous of you they’re not worth your time. -[x] Show common courtesy to the folks praising you. Who knows, maybe the others will be jealous when you purposefully ignore them.
[X] Explain yourself to the Twitter users that you’re Persian. -[X] Do it in Farsi
Even though it’s tempting (and maybe more sensible?) to take the higher ground and ignore the haters, it’s strangely interesting to explore Parsee’s cultural background through using her native (?) language.
Whether or not those people would believe her explanation, though… remains to be seen.
[X] Explain yourself to the Twitter users that you’re Persian. [X] Do it in Farsi
You take a few minutes to find a site that lets you type in Farsi, and then roughly three hours to relearn the language that you have not spoken for centuries. As far as you know, you’re the only person from Iran in Gensokyo, and the people in this place aren’t really the types to pick up second languages, much less ones that are not English.
>Replying to @TylerTheFoz >“Just because my name is in Japanese now doesn’t mean I’m not Iranian.” (in Farsi)
Sent. You tap your fingers for a minute...and a reply pops up. Looks like these people watch their accounts like hawks.
>@TylerTheFoz: Using Google Translate doesn’t count. Also, you’re just switching to the correct term now when you were using the colonizer term “Persia” now that you’ve been caught.
You stare at the screen.
You resist the urge to ram your fist straight through the screen of the laptop.
You changed your language to appeal to a worldwide audience and this is what you get. Yujin444 really was right about Twitter being a shithole.
Shhh, it’s okay. Breathe, Parsee, you don’t want to make a bad reputation for yourself on this platform since you have your online identity tied to this. You’re the older person here and this isn’t close to the first time you’ve been insulted. You’re not going to threaten their lives, but you are most definitely making curse dolls of them.
>Replying to @TylerTheFoz >I am sorry that you detest me so much. If you don’t enjoy my art you don’t have to look at it. (in Farsi)
There, that should shut them up for a bit. You turn your attention back to some of the more pleasant comments on your work and respond to them in innocuous ways that invoke your favorite emotion.
>Thank you! This is my first painting ever so I didn’t expect any praise.
This is like, your thousandth. You had a lot of spare time living under bridges.
>This took me four hours to do. Really appreciate the love!
According to a random Youtube video you looked up, an average Persian miniature takes a novice human 60-70 hours to finish.
You respond to each and every one of the handful of positive responses you got with a personal message in return. No copypasting for you at this stage, no way. You cannot afford to lose out on the sense of genuineness. That is what relationships are built on, after all.
With that done, you leave your seat. Poking around the cupboards, you snatch a cold riceball from a tray and shove it into your mouth. With your stomach satisfied, and your emotional needs more than satiated today, you climb into bed and doze off.
You wake up. It felt like a dreamless sleep, but you got a nagging feeling that something in your mind was replaying things.
Checking your alarm clock reveals that the Artificial Sun is about to come online again. Another new day. Yawning, you get up and stretch. You feel oddly light, as if some burden has been taken off of your back.
Looking out the window, you spot some people crossing the bridge. Ordinarily, you would go out and stare at them with your powers turned on, but not right now, and perhaps not anymore.
Today is a workday, however, so after you get dressed and eat a bit of breakfast, you put on the splotched work apron and take up several cans of wood paint along with the large brush.
The bridge is large, and while most everyone living down here knows how to fly, walking is less tiring and so it sees regular use. Your job is to make sure that the bridge stays relatively clean, presentable, and safe in regards to the foot activity of rambunctious oni, which makes your job a bit more stressful than that of a normal bridgekeeper…
Do they even have bridgekeepers in other places anymore? As far as you know you only have this position because this is where people cross from the surface world to Old Hell, and the bridge is big enough to actually need a full-time maintenance worker.
Such thoughts cross your head as you hover around the sides of the bridge, filling in where the paint has chipped off. It’s dull, repetitive work, but you have to keep the money flowing in somehow. An unfortunate truth for youkai is that despite not being human, they still have to eat. Most youkai in Gensokyo, as far as you know, simply help themselves to the bountiful game and wild fruit around the land. But down here, where nothing grew before the Sun came up, it’s work or starve.
You know that it is possible to make money through streaming, but you don’t have an Outside World bank account. Even if you did, you are a long ways away from being able to live on such an income.
So while you’re here, why don’t you try to have some fun with your current job?
[ ] Draw some danmaku patterns on the bridge [ ] Draw some flowers and trees, things not usually seen Underground [ ] Draw something else: _________
[x] Draw visuals of the surface, transition into the visuals of the underground.
First off, some happy little trees.
Trees that stretch up towards the sky. Trees that are low to the ground. Trees whose branches form a green roof over the heads of those walking underneath them. Trees with bare branches like a lonesome crone. Trees that bloom a brilliant red in autumn. Trees that do not change their color no matter how much snow falls on them.
All lovingly rendered in the one shade of black you have access to. Obviously you’re not going to be using your art paint on this. The trees come out nicely though, as you have a firm grasp of their contours to render them distinct, even at a distance. These are happy little trees no matter how nearsighted the observer may be. Well, maybe not if they’re too nearsighted.
Now, let’s paint some mushrooms on the other side of the bridge, the one leading down into the glittering lights of Old Hell and the near-blasphemous gleam of the Artificial Sun. Mushrooms have populated this cave and sustained its population since Hell moved, and mushrooms remain the most common form of vegetation down here.
Same thing with the trees: Short mushrooms, tall mushrooms, thin mushrooms, thick mushrooms. Mushrooms with bulbous heads and mushrooms with flat caps. They are disproportionately large when compared to the trees, but they have to be in order to be visible.
Before you know it, the whole day has passed and the Artificial Sun is dimming. You were so absorbed in the painting that you forgot to eat lunch. Your stomach growls an urgent tune, artistically describing its need for nourishment, and you realize that the rice ball you ate last night was the last rice ball you had in the house.
Screw it, you have some extra funds in hand. You might as well treat yourself a bit and go eat in the city.
Flying over there because you don’t feel like waiting, you hover over the streets of Old Hell deciding which venue you want to visit. Old Aki’s is pretty good, but its fare is too close to home cooking for your liking. The Watering Hole of Andos has nice rates and service, but it’s all pub fare. Argh! Decision overload!
“Hey Miss Mizuhashi!” You look down to see...a rather familiar face at this point, “You want to go get that drink you had no time for yesterday?”
“Sure, as long as there’s good food, I’m famished.”
“Oh, I know a place!” The clerk takes your shoulder, gripping it with the crushing strength of an oni, and drags you through the air over to a very bright and very crowded restaurant.
“The Red Tiger Teahouse! You’re definitely not going to leave hungry after you get a roast inside of ya!”
“A whole roast...what?”
You soon received your answer as the whole haunch of a deer, drizzled in sauce and rotated on a spit for two hours. Apparently they have a waterwheel on the stream next to the establishment just to run the cooking spits, and this crispy, rich result is one of the products of that mechanical contraption.
You carve off a massive hunk and shove it into your mouth. It is as gamey as deer usually tastes, but the marinade covers up most of that. In fact, the marinade is so strong that you suspect the chefs just dunk the deer parts in a tub of sauce and forget about them until someone orders one. Quantity over quality seems to be the name of the game at this restaurant, but you’re hungry so that’s not much of a concern right now.
The meat takes up the left side of the table, while the right side is a large tub of rice mixed in with pickled cabbage for roughage and to offset the grease from the meat. A bite of meat, a scoop of cabbage and rice, that’s the pattern of eating recommended here.
“Come on, cheers!”
The clerk is drinking at the usual oni rate, which is free and without any restraint. You drink more carefully, mixing in sips of tea to dilute the effects as you don’t really feel like dealing with a hangover tomorrow. You apparently succeed at this as you don’t see more than five fingers by the time your partner at the table has clearly passed into the realm of drunkenness, swaying to and fro and with a reddened face.
“Heya, Parsee. You’re not talking much eh, today?”
“I mean, was I a talkative person? Also I skipped lunch so forgive me if I’m too focused on eating.” Your mouth is still full when you say this.
“Fair enough. You usually do talk a lot when you drink here in the city though, usually complaints.”
Right, that. “Well, things are going pretty well for me right now so I just don’t have any complaints.” You say with an intentional grin on your face and a twinkle in your eye. “Really well, if I might say.”
“Really? Aw that’s good for ya.”
A bit of jealousy, but still, jealousy.
She laughs and sways around a bit more, before suddenly stopping as she looks off to the side, “Say, what’s that fella doin’ at the door?”
You look over. Indeed, there’s someone at the door, just standing in the doorway and not moving. It’s hard to describe their clothing...very indistinct for some reason, and very forgettable. Same with their face. What they are doing, though, is staring at you.
Deciding that the weirdo standing in the doorway is ruining your good mood, you move up to them and say “Hey, who are you?”
The person doesn’t move, or say anything. They simply continue staring.
“You’re creeping me out, do you mind if you stop doing that?”
The staring continues, but now the mouth moves. “We here at Twitch.tv really appreciate your continued cooperation with us, and would like to see this partnership extend into the future.”
Your mind spins. You feel as though a cold hand has just grasped your heart and twisted. You really don’t want the oni here to learn about your new life as a streamer.
“Um, can we talk about this somewhere...”
“We have identified you through your online activities as being a very suitable candidate for our platform. We believe that you can pull in a lot of viewers once you really get started and benefit both our platform and yourself.”
You’re panicking now. You’re noticing eyes being drawn to you from around the teahouse, “Look, I really don’t want to...”
“Our advertisers are very happy with the content of your stream, and are happy to continue working with you. We recommend that you continue creating content catering...creating content catering...creating content catering...appropriate for all viewers...viewers...”
You scream out loud as the person suddenly dissolves, transforming before your eyes into the consistency of liquid and melting into a flesh colored puddle on the floor. Even as they melted, their mouth continues to babble out fragments of sentences until it too, becomes a part of the goop.
Staring in horror at the scene, your mind struggles to come up with an explanation of what just happened? Why was the person acting like they’re from Twitch? WHY DID THEY MELT INTO A FLESH PUDDLE?
A hand taps you on the shoulder, “A conversation with empty air scared ya?” The clerk asks, before laughing. “Ah, you should’ve seen your face.”
“You mean you don’t see...” You look back at the door...and see that the person puddle is STILL THERE. “THAT?” You point.
“See what?” She leans over and looks in the direction of the flesh puddle, “Just a floor tile. Is the drink getting to your head? Ha!”
“No, really! There’s a person, and they just melted into...that!” Is nobody else seeing this? Your fear only grows with the continued ignorance of your dinner partner.
“It’s okay, Parsee. If there’s anything scary you can count on me to handle it for ya!” She pounds her chest as she sits back down with you on the table. “Now, let’s get back to eating now, shall we?”
Your appetite is mostly gone now, but to keep up appearances you continue eating until you are physically stuffed. You never stop keeping an eye on the puddle in the doorway. It doesn’t move, but it does continue to exist. If it is a figment of your imagination, it is awfully persistent.
“Ah, that was some good stuff.” the clerk says as she picks clean the last of the deer haunch and tosses her share of the bill onto the table. “I would say that we should hit up the bars after this, but you already look like you’ve had enough.”
You are just about to say that you just want to go home and sleep after a long day’s work, but stop as a bout of fear and loneliness enters your head, induced in no small part by your recent scare.
It’s an odd feeling, but tonight, you really don’t want to be alone. “Miss...um...what’s your name again?”
“Saishiki. Just call me Saishiki.”
“It’s late, and it’s a long ways back to my house. So, um, do you mind if I sleep at your place tonight?”
She looks at you with surprise in her eyes, before smiling, “Oh sure! Don’t know why the reclusive and antisocial Parsee Mizuhashi would ever entertain a sleepover, but I’m happy that you’re doing so.”
“It’s nothing...I just want to try something new.” You say as you leave your part of the bill on the table. Walking out of the doorway, you are careful to step over the puddle...which still looks like it’s moving.
Saishiki’s house is a small apartment located down the street from the art supplies store. It is smaller than your own house by a fair margin, as you do have a separate room for the futon as well as a much more substantial kitchen that’s not just an alcove in a wall. Still, the price you pay for that is being quite far away from the city and its associated oni, a price that you would have considered a boon in earlier times, but now…now it doesn’t seem like a good thing.
“Hey, this building just got an electric water heater from the kappa.” Saishiki says as soon as you enter the door, “I can have a hot bath inside the house now! You want to try it out since the public baths are closed right now?”
[ ] Sure, why not? A bath might calm your nerves. [ ] You’d rather not use her things if you don’t have to.
I wonder how this hallucination fits in. The weird neighing tree taken by Yuuka fits with the first nightmare, the theme of the bridge painting and with Bob Ross' propensity for them. I can't quite connect the dots to dissolving twitch mods (apart from Bob's and their obvious affiliation with twitch.)
[x] You’d rather not use her things if you don’t have to.
There seems to be a pattern of underground stories offering bathing choices. I'm gonna do the honorable thing and pre-piss this tide.
>>16733 We'll, I was flirting with the idea that her dreams and hallucinations were premonitions once the tree appeared in her backyard and was pretty confident about it once Yuuka took it with her. Parsee getting into drawing flowers and trees seemed like a theme. Bob Ross, who loves his lovely little trees, encouraging Parsee, his motivations yet having to be revealed. Looked like a proper horror story set-up to me. That's why I was put off by her having that particular hallucination. It didn't connect for me - maybe it will later.
It could certainly be just some sort of fever dream with no significance of course. But iunno, it'd be kind of a shame? There's intrigue and significance there and I'll be damned; having Bob Ross in a Touhou story that doesn't turn out to be just wacky-wahoo silliness is too fun to pass up.
The collapsible bathtub takes up the entirety of the free space of her tiny bathroom. It’s a little claustrophobic, but you get used to it quickly.
The faucet, with its new cold and hot water knobs, is a rather curious contraption for you, whose house hasn’t been updated much in the past century save for the electrical rigging you wanted for lights. Whenever you wanted to have a bath, you generally just had a dip in the cold river underneath the bridge. Or if you’re in one of your rare sociable moods, you attended one of the onsens in the city. A private bath was something you just kind of never had, something you always figured was the domain of the rich and important.
But this is GOOD stuff! Once the hot water starts pouring into the tub, you sigh in pure joy as you feel your muscles unwind from the day’s worth of painting. It’s not exactly an onsen, but the fact that you don’t have to share it with anyone is a big plus in your mind. None of the noise and bustle from the oni drinking in the pool or chatting it up around the washing stations. Nope, just you, hot water, and the toiletries for scrubbing yourself clean.
You’d hate to admit it, but you do kind of smell. Bathing in the river isn’t something you particularly enjoy, and spending money means the onsens are only a sometimes thing. Most of the time, you go to bed without washing.
Maybe you’ll get a boiler and a bathtub too. Not that you need a bathtub to wash up in the traditional Japanese way, but the feeling is too good to pass up.
Scrubbing your armpits, your mind drifts off from the horror of this night to more pleasant realms, augmented by the comfortable heat. Your streams and artwork are coming along nicely. Gaming streams are something new, but you’re confident that you could handle the audience without much issue. Even if your vidya stream isn’t successful, well, you can and should just keep drawing. Yes, Mizuhashi Parsee is an art streamer first and foremost.
The water gets cloudier the more you scrub, as the soap and grime mixes in. Filling a bucket of fresh water, you scrub your hair with shampoo and slowly pour the hot water over yourself, allowing the heat to spread slowly over your head and shoulders. Delightful, very satisfying. You had heard that the kappa were selling hoses attached with odd metal pieces that they call “showerheads”, which apparently lets you achieve a constant stream of water over yourself when hooked up to a faucet. Maybe you’ll get one of those when you get a water heater.
Finishing your bath with one last rinse, you empty out the bathtub into the drain. You dry yourself off with the larger towel in the room and put on your underclothes. “I’m done, Saishiki.”
“Oh goody!” She’s functioning rather well despite being drunk. Maybe oni develop a tolerance not just to alcohol, but to the psychological condition as well? “Lemme go wash up.”
Saishiki shuts the sliding door behind her, leaving you alone in the room. You unroll the futon next to the kotatsu, and settle down inside of it. Closing your eyes, you attempt to drift off into slumber...and fail.
You stare at the ceiling until Saishiki comes out of the bathroom with a towel on. She rolls out her futon perpendicular to your position, so that your futons are touching head to head. For some odd reason, you feel drowsier right after she does this, as if something warm has wrapped around you.
Likely the feeling of security from having someone else in the room.
“Good night Saishiki.”
You shoot straight up out of the futon. Looking to the side, you see that Saishiki is still drunk asleep.
It’s coming from the window. Priming a danmaku bolt in your hand, you inch over to the screen, and look out of it.
Oh...it’s just a bird. Ramming itself against the dusty glass window (This tiny old-fashioned apartment has glass windows? Weird. There must have been a paper shortage when it was built.), for no apparent reason. Birds aren’t common underground for obvious reasons, but since the Sun went up some of them have been migrating down here to take advantage of the unsecured agriculture as well as the insects that populate the now-fertile soil.
You wait for it to ram a few more times, and then open the window. The bird flies in, does a few circles around the room, flutters above your head a bit, and then promptly leaves again through the window.
Again, that was weird. You close the window, leap back into the futon, and return to sleep.
Rays of sunlight strike your eyelids. Yawning, you sit straight back up. It wasn’t the best sleep since you got interrupted in the middle of the night, but you do feel refreshed and more importantly, less frightened.
Looking around, you see that your host is still sprawled out on the futon, snoring. Still sleeping off the alcohol, you presume.
Well, as the more sober of the two of you, you should probably get some food.
[ ] Cook breakfast for the two of you, along with a hangover cure [ ] Buy breakfast for the two of you, along with a hangover cure
[X] Cook breakfast for the two of you, along with a hangover cure [X]Eggs
You’re not quite sure what to make for breakfast, but a gaggle of voices in your head, sounding suspiciously like those of the streaming audience you have courted, tells you to make eggs.
Well, eggs it is then. You dash a couple of eggs together and mix in some diced green onions. A bit of salt and pepper to taste, and into the frying pan it goes. The eggs swiftly turn from their original pale yellow hue into a delectable gold, and the smell is excellent. You did always enjoy scrambled eggs.
On the other stove top you boil some strong tea to go with the eggs. It also works as a hangover cure...you think. Along with the eggs it ought to suppress the symptoms of over-drinking. Though you are not quite sure how it will interact with the brain of an oni.
Quite soon, the smell of food arouses Saishiki from bed. “Morning.” She yawns, scratching her hair around the base of her horns. “Oh, are you cooking?”
“Yeah, gotta repay your hospitality after all.” You say as you flip the giant patty of scrambled eggs into the air like a pancake. “Also, gotta get something in the stomach to fend off the morning after symptoms.”
“Nah, don’t worry about that. Us oni are more than used to the feeling. Ain’t nothing more than a small, dull ache in the front of my head.” She gets up and leans over to see you cook. “Eggs, eh?”
“Easy to cook, and I think I’ve got a brain parasite that keeps telling me to make them.” You joke. Maybe it’s the residual alcohol from last night, but you are in quite a fantastic mood right now. You don’t quite feel like Parsee, but rather the person who became Parsee that—
You shake your head to shrug off the thoughts. No sir! No painful memories for you today! Today is about a happy breakfast and whatever streaming you are going to do.
The eggs are done quickly, and you split it, handing the oni a significantly larger portion since you’re not that hungry. Saishiki digs in with great relish after a hurried thanks, chopstick after chopstick of fried eggs going in her mouth like a bird pecking at wood. You chew on your portion slower, but still enough to appreciate your own handiwork.
After eggs, tea. The leaves finish steeping around the time that the plates are clean. Hot tea in your stomach really loosens it up, allowing you to crack some more jokes and laugh at the clerk’s replies. It feels great, just drinking morning tea with a...friend, you suppose? And without any of your usual attitude getting in the way.
You feel really out-of-character. It's a weird vibe, feeling like a different person, but you don’t quite feel like it’s a bad one.
“Anyways,” you say as Saishiki finishes talking about an encounter she had with a customer who thought painting involved swordplay for some reason, “Thanks a lot for letting me stay over. It was really nice!”
“Oh, don’t worry about it. I’ll let you and your eggs come by any time!” Gathering up your things and saying goodbye to Saishiki, you exit the apartment and emerge back onto the street. The air smells sweeter than usual, and the glint of the Artificial Sun off of the cave ceiling is rather pleasant to look at, you feel.
You think you saw an afro’d figure wave at you from just out of the corner of your eye, but when you turn to look, nothing’s there but oni going about their morning business.
You take some detours on the way back to your house. First, you cautiously approach the tea house where you had the encounter last night...and the puddle is gone. Maybe it was just a persistent hallucination.
Next, groceries. You grab as much food as you can carry this time around, reasoning that streaming and practice will likely cut into your time more and more. So it’s mostly stuff that’s easy to eat and prepare. Pickles, boned smoked fish, bacon, more eggs, etc. All of these go on your back. Of course, since you’re a youkai, you can easily carry what would take three humans to lift.
Out of the city, across the bridge, and back in your yard. You take some careful looks around both outside and inside of the house. Nothing seems out of the ordinary.
“I’m home!” You call out to no one as you enter your living room. Everything’s still there, nothing was disturbed…
Maybe it was just a persistent hallucination.
After you finish storing the food in the pantry, you turn your attention back to the laptop. You did list a semi-regular streaming schedule on your channel after your first stream, mostly since you saw other streamers doing it. It’s every other day, so you have time to take care of your bridge-tending duties.
Today’s a streaming day.
[ ] Get started on another painting [ ] Try some vidya streaming [ ] Stream something else? _______
[ ] ... [ ] …… [ ] ……... [ ] Notifications - My Twitch - You have One message from [Staff]Metatron.
>You feel really out-of-character. It's a weird vibe, feeling like a different person, but you don’t quite feel like it’s a bad one.
Uh-oh, is Twitch causing Parsee to question her identity?
[x] Get started on another painting [x] Draw Saishiki [x] Notifications - My Twitch - You have One message from [Staff]Metatron. Let's read this after the stream so we don't have a paranoid breakdown in front of our budding audience.
>>16747 ...That might actually be an important line of questioning. It does seem possible that streaming might be having a spooky bullshit effect on her as a youkai instead of just effecting her normally as a person.
[x] Get started on another painting [x] Draw Saishiki [x] Notifications - My Twitch - You have One message from [Staff]Metatron. Let's read this after the stream so we don't have a paranoid breakdown in front of our budding audience.
[x] Get started on another painting [x] Draw Saishiki - and a hyssop [x] Notifications - My Twitch - You have One message from [Staff]Metatron.
>>16747 The vibe I've been getting that she's able to explore the other aspects of her personality since she's getting opportunities to sate her hunger for jealousy - in healthy and productive ways even.
[x] Get started on another painting [x] Draw Saishiki - and a hyssop [x] Notifications - My Twitch - You have One message from [Staff]Metatron.
“Hello my dear viewers!” You greet the fifty or so viewers that have gathered up to watch your stream. Most of the chat was discussing your pointy ears before you set up the stream: are they artificial? Or are they somehow real? Are they sensitive or are they just like normal ears?
“Are my ears really that interesting?” You wonder to yourself. In your opinion, your body’s most notable feature would have to be your magical green eyes, not your ears. It’s funny how humans latch on to the most random things.
>Yujin444: Hi Mizuhashi!
>Hjarkbjorn: Welcome back!
>SandwichEnthusiast: New to this stream, what do you usually paint?
>angeryrobot: Methinks the above user wants you to paint a sandwich
You dramatically uncover the canvas and reveal the thin pencil sketches you’ve done beforehand to save time. “Today we are doing a miniature of a fri—-Er, I mean, an oni! Standing in some pretty flowers. I’m doing an actual landscape this time rather than just some random decorations strewn about the painting, so I’m afraid I can’t take a request as flexible as the one before.”
>PurpleManlet: Can you do a lake?
>Hjarkbjorn: Yeah, I think a lake would look nice
>I_Am_Fire: Third for the lake. Also, is this a cute anime oni, or like, mythological?
Alright, a nice lake in the background. You add some quick sketches to the paper for that detail.
I_Am_Fire’s question does pose an interesting corundum for you though. Gensokyo’s youkai in general have evolved past their past depictions. You’re not quite sure what an “anime oni” implies, but Saishiki definitely doesn’t resemble any traditional oni picture.
“An anime oni, I think.”
You start off the painting by drawing the person, as you always do. First a fine brush with black paint for the linework, and then a lighter shade of black for the clothing. Her hair demands a particular shade of white, and her skin is on the rosier side, so you have to take some time to carefully mix up the needed colors on the palette. Her outfit overall is quite simple though, so in just under two hours you’ve gotten the vast majority of Saishiki down in paint.
“Alright, that’s it for part one”. You say as you take a break for the paint to dry off. Checking the chat, most of them are contributing their per-stream tithe of jealousy in the form of surprise at how quickly you paint and how much you are accomplishing with a small canvas.
Foolish humans, don’t they know that with practice, a Persian miniature is easier than a Western or Eastern painting? You don’t have to sweat the small details as much...but that is just your opinion as someone who has a dozen lifespans worth of practice.
“Part two, accessorizing!”
With a gleeful, and some would say wicked, smile on your face, you begin adding parts to Saishiki that she doesn’t have in real life. Ribbons ala Ibuki’s on her horns. Tassels just everywhere on her plain clerk’s outfit. Generous frills to bring her fashion up to Gensokyo’s standard. Those sort of things that by the time you’re done, you can’t quite tell that this is the same oni you’ve been drinking with yesterday.
You check the clock. Three hours. You check the viewer count: Eighty souls are watching you.
>Hjarkbjorn: [PogChamp] YOU ARE SPEED [PogChamp]
>SandwichEnthusiast: Wow I could totally do this [KappaRoss]
>bloody_literature: would like to see your face more!
Good responses, all good responses. You let out a sigh of satisfaction at another stream well done. “That’ll be it for today! I’ll fill out the background next stream and maybe do a bit of gaming afterwards then. I’ll be on for a bit longer to chat!” Mostly to absorb as much jealousy as you can, but they don’t need to know that.
Chat’s busy “Pogging” out right now, and are not demanding much interaction even with your eyes passively influencing them. What to do...right, the message! Now’s a good time to check that staff message sitting in your inbox.
Hi, so this is kind of an awkward notice, but a necessary one. Long story short, our servers were compromised by an unknown attacker during the past couple of weeks. They didn’t access private user info though, but they did masquerade as staff without us noticing for the longest time since most of us were on vacation. We sincerely apologize for this and will work harder to ensure that our security is up-to-par in the future.
Now, the part personally relevant to you: The attackers used my account to interact with you as the chatlogs show, and even ordered equipment and game codes earmarked for Partners to be delivered to your house, according to company invoices. We are unsure where you are currently living since we don’t have your address on file other than your country being Japan, and we suspect that the attacker may have secured your information from another leak. Consider this a reminder to update your passwords.
Your continued streaming efforts on our platform have been noted, and we consider you a good faith actor from your activity. As a result, we will not be investigating you as a suspect in the attack given. Due to shipping costs, we would also permit you to keep the equipment shipped to you for now.
Regards, Metatron, Twitch Support Team
You read and re-read this message a couple of times over, confusion building in your head. So the Metatron user that was interacting with you earlier was an imposter? How weird. And that imposter must have liked you or something, because they gave you so many free things…
You never posted your address online, or even typed it into the computer.
You’re not even sure if your house HAS an actual written address. Yukari and such people know your location personally, and for the rare few times you had to direct people to your house it was just “The house under the Old Hell bridge on the surface’s end.” There is absolutely no way that somebody from the Outside World would’ve known where to drop the package off even with magic.
Unless, of course, the youkai of boundaries had something to do with this.
[ ] Find Yukari and get some answers. It’ll be hard to find her. [ ] Find Reimu and ask her to find Yukari for you. It’s technically part of her job, but the shrine maiden is rather scary. [ ] Find that half-youkai shopkeeper at the edge of the Forest of Magic. He has regular contact with that youkai and might lend some insight into cross-border goods delivery.
I'm trying to think of what the neighing tree, Parsee's nightmares, melting Twitch staff, and this apparent Twitch hijack have in common, but it's just mentally looping back to "Yukari did it." Oh well. >[ ] Find Yukari and get some answers. It’ll be hard to find her. Adventure option? Would go for it, but it feels like we're more likely to get some answers if we [x] Find that half-youkai shopkeeper at the edge of the Forest of Magic.
[x] Find that half-youkai shopkeeper at the edge of the Forest of Magic. He has regular contact with that youkai and might lend some insight into cross-border goods delivery. Yes! My boi gonna have his time to shine for once.
[x] Find that half-youkai shopkeeper at the edge of the Forest of Magic. He has regular contact with that youkai and might lend some insight into cross-border goods delivery.
Calling the following IF Sumireko there; she takes a snapshot of Parsee as usual for her Gensokyo adventures and posts it on Twitter. Nobody believes her and she ultimately gets called out for LARPing by one of the followers of our young and budding elf-cosplaying Persian miniature streamer.
[X] Find that half-youkai shopkeeper at the edge of the Forest of Magic. He has regular contact with that youkai and might lend some insight into cross-border goods delivery.
It’s been a long time since the last time you went up to the surface. Enough so that you don’t quite remember what it looked like before. Were the trees always this green? Was there always an aerial tramway connecting the base of the tengu’s mountain with the top? The last time you came up it was to chase out some rowdy humans who somehow made it past the spiders, as you have little reason to come up otherwise. The only reason you know that there’s a shopkeeper near the Forest of Magic is because Yukari was idly blabbing away about him.
“Let’s see, Forest of Magic...Forest of Magic...” There are multiple forests around the surface, and you can’t really tell the difference between them. By process of elimination, you exclude the one that’s made of giant stalks of bamboo, and also eliminate the one that’s near the mountain since you know for sure that’s not called the Forest of Magic. So that just leaves the dark one to the east.
Flying low, you perform a circumferential path around the forest until you finally spot the small building located just off to its edge, where the trees are thin.
It’s not the most well-maintained building, but it is very eye-catching, with loads of posters and stickers attached to the walls outside. There are some establishments like this in Old Hell, but they all belong to old farts. How old can a half-youkai be anyway? Apparently enough to be hoarding so many pieces of what appear to be Outside World items that are piling up outside of the shop, reinforcing its near junkyard look.
“Hello!” You call out as you open the door and enter the shop. It’s well lit, with electric lights hooked up to what you now know as a “solar panel” at the top of the roof. The interior is just as disorganized as the exterior, though you see that most of the items are tagged. Shelves upon shelves of random assorted trinkets and electronics, some of which you recognize with a smirk. Larger items line up around the perimeter of the floor space. Clocks, heaters, and other appliances you can’t identify surround the shelves, producing a surprisingly gloomy environment despite the (recent, you observe) installation of electric lights.
“Just pick out the things you want and bring it to the counter. If it’s heavy, tell me what it looks like.” Comes the lackadaisical and rather uninterested voice coming from the far side of the store. Does this man want to run a shop or not? Even you know that this is no way to treat a customer.
“I’m looking for you Mr. Morichika.” You say after navigating through the shelves to the desk where Rinnosuke is sitting. A handsome, white-haired man with sharp features, you observe, who despite a slim build doesn’t seem to be one that goes out much...much like you, you reflect.
“Or rather, I’m looking for your supplier, Miss Yakumo.”
Rinnosuke sets down the book he’s reading (an Outside World novel, you see, judging by the glossy cover), “I’m sorry, but you are...?”
“Mizuhashi Parsee, the hashihime that tends to the bridge between the Surface and the underworld around Old Hell.”
“Mizuhashi...” He looks down with his hand on his chin, lost in recall. “Parsee...I think Marisa told me about you once before. Ahem.” He clears his throat as if to not comment on what exactly that witch told him. “If you’re looking for Yukari, she stops by the store very infrequently. What business do you have with her, anyway?”
“She supplied me with a laptop computer with internet access for...um...personal reasons.” You look over and see that he has a detached monitor on his desk. “If you know what that is. What’s currently going on though, is that other people have been sending me things, seemingly from the Outside World. If anyone knows anything about things going across the Border, it’s either her, the shrine maiden...or you.”
“Other people have been sending you things? Wait, scratch that, Yukari gave you a fully functioning computer that can access things outside of Gensokyo?!” The glasses slide off his nose as he exclaims, “How in the world did you convince her to do that? I want one too--Er, I mean, just out of curiosity.”
You recall just how this happened, “I was hanging out on my bridge, as usual, when I saw that gap youkai going across, presumably to speak to somebody in Old Hell. Naturally, I said to her ‘Wow, I can’t believe the great youkai of boundaries is actually walking on her two feet. Must be nice to be able to portal around wherever you like.’
To my surprise, she actually responded to my comment. ‘Yes, it is quite nice, but one has to get some exercise every now and then.’ She had this weird closed-eye smile on her face as she’s saying that.
I responded, ‘Easy for you to say, if I can get what I want while sitting around the whole time like you, I would do it in a heartbeat.’
She leaned close to me, with a really wide smile now, and said, “Do you really want that?” I said, “Of course! Who wouldn’t!”
So she tapped her parasol on my shoulder, and said, "Well well well, if you want it so much, I will give it to you. The Outside World has an informational network where billions of humans communicate with each other without having to step outside. Evoking jealousy would be trivial then for you...’
My mind kind of went blank after ‘billions of humans communicate' and just agreed to whatever she was saying afterwards. So that’s probably how I ended up with a computer that can connect to the internet Outside.”
Rinnosuke has his face in his hands, and lets out several guffaws whenever you mention Yukari smiling. “And of all people” he says after you’re done, “You don’t suspect her of pulling something over you?”
“Other than the oddities I mentioned, it’s been working fine for me. I’ve been just showing off my artistic skills to people over the internet and harvesting jealousy from them that way.” You feel sort of awkward telling this to a stranger.
“Ugh.” Rinnosuke lifts his head up, “Well, I have no idea when she’s going to show up again, but I do know that items can get through the Barrier in its weakspots. That’s how I get my merchandise from Muenzuka and similar locations. I presume whatever mechanism she’s using to cross the Barrier for the connection is causing a weakspot to form near your house.”
“You’re right, I think she did mention something about that. Huh.” Your eyes wander over to the merchandise around Rinnosuke’s desk. “But Mr. Morichika, that still doesn’t explain how they know my address when I’m pretty sure I don’t have one. Or how Outside World humans know to deliver things through such a weakspot.”
“Can’t help you there then. By the way, you said something about art?” Rinnosuke reaches below his desk and pulls out a large piece of equipment. If you’re not mistaken by your experiences with the computer, this looks like a “printer”.
“Yukari says that this is an Outside World device used by office workers and artists. It hooks up to a computer but I don’t have one, so maybe you can make use of it.” Rinnosuke gingerly strokes the printer and lifts up one of its panels, revealing a glass pane of unknown usage, “Something about an included ‘scanning’ capability too. I’ll let this baby go for 40,000 yen.”
That’s easily a week’s worth of wages for you. But the potential...
[X] Buy the printer Unlikely we'll get any real use out of the printing part, because why would we and also where the fuck would we get refills on ink, but scanning is a godsend. Fuck using a video camera to take an image, that always ends up looking like shit
"40,000? I'll almost starve! After all I don't make money showing my paintings to the outside world humans!", she said, artfully refraining from mentioning her recently filled pantry and profits from the oni art sale.
[×] Don't buy the printer -[×] look around for other items first --[×] Take a note of several things that stand out, and look them up on the internet later before buying them.
I'd rather not get scammed out of an inkless or broken printer. Besides, it's common sense to not buy the first thing you're offered, and we're here to look for Yukari first, shopping second. And at this point I think Parsee has enough sense to think of using Google, especially since she's dealing with outside world items here.
Forget everything I said, I just realized that if the scanner works, we might be able to sell our art online and generate money. With more money in our hands people will be even more jealous. Still, we gotta be careful incase the printer doesn't work.
Changing vote to: [×] Buy the printer -[×] Make sure to get a warranty
[X] Buy the printer - [X] Make Rinnosuke sign a warranty
“I’ll take it for 40000...but I’m going to need a guarantee that this thing works. If it doesn’t print or scan, I’m returning it or at least getting a partial refund.” Rinnosuke grimaces, then relents, “Fair enough. This is a big purchase after all.” He takes out a fountain pen and quickly scribbles down a receipt, plus the required return clauses, “I won’t accept it if it’s damaged, modified, or if the cables attached to it are missing.”
“Of course, of course.” You fork over the money and heave the printer into a cardboard box lined with scrap paper. Kourindou has a lot of these flattened boxes lying around, for some reason, most likely because Rinnosuke picked them up at the border and just never had enough customers to use them all.
“Careful with that.” He says as you stick the box into your knapsack — the largest one you had in your house. You had figured that since you’re having a jaunt to the surface anyway, you might as well get some shopping done for goods not normally available underground, so you brought the one pack that makes the ones the kappa carry look miniscule.
“It’s fine, I can handle the weight.” You say as you heft the pack onto your shoulders, “You got anything else you want to sell me?”
“I had this large sword that seemed to be both magical and annoyingly vocal sealed up in the backroom that I wanted to get rid of, but what appeared to be a western dragon traveling with a young girl bought it just before you arrived. That was odd.” Rinnosuke mentally takes inventory of his shop, “Other than that I’m pretty sure I have some items that are computer accessories, but I won’t know if they’ll work with your setup.”
“With all due respect, your computer accessories are at least twenty years out-of-date.” You say, brushing the dust off of a keyboard that uses a serial cable. “Well then, I guess I’ll see you later. Thank you for the printer.”
He waves you off, “Thanks for the patronage. I’ll relay your questions to Yukari if she stops by again.”
You leave Kourindou. Looking up, you stare at the clear blue sky and the actual Sun for longer than is advisable. How long has it been since you talked to anyone topside (the shrine maiden and the witch don’t count)? How long has it been since you saw the sky?
“And this is your typical Gensokyean scenery.” You talk to an imaginary stream audience as you fly in the direction of the largest continuous patch of buildings you see, “Lots of forests, mountains on all sides, and blooming flowers of the season. Here,” You turn a fake camcorder towards the village, “Is where the humans live, I think, let’s go find out what they’re up to today!”
Doing that boosts your confidence enough that you don’t mind the strange looks and aversive behaviors you receive when you touch down in the middle of the village. Your blond hair, pointy ears and Near East outfit, already unique in Old Hell, stick out like a sore thumb amidst the traditionally dressed and very much Japanese humans currently walking about the streets of the village.
Whispers permeate the air around you as you walk towards the market square. You brush them off. You’re new here, after all, and you doubt you are the first youkai to patronize this settlement.
“Fruits!” You dash over to the closest stall sporting them. Old Hell’s fruit trees haven’t grown yet, so the only source is from the Surface. “How much for the oranges?” You say to the rather frightened stall owner.
“Four...three hundred yen a pound.” He stammers out, “Same for the others, except the apples, those are...five hundred yen.”
You scoop up all of the oranges, pears, and grapes you can fit into your pack, emptying out your wallet in the process. The stall owner watches you clear out half his inventory with a mixture of amazement and confusion, with some happiness thrown in at such a large sale.
“More where that came from.” You say, pretending that you still have money left in your wallet while you lock eyes with the man. “I’ve got a pretty good deal going on underground, you know?”
“Really? That must be fortunate of you.” He says, not entirely with positive feelings.
Fruits AND jealousy! What more can you ask for? The pack is just about at the limit where you’d feel comfortable flying with, so you decide to cut your visit to the surface here.
Theoretically you can go about fishing for surface fish or hunting for surface game...hey, why do all these people get to live up here anyway? How come you can’t move up here and enjoy the same blue skies?
The spike of minor jealousy you received from the human unknowingly triggers something that’s been brewing up inside you since you saw the surface again. You look around. Despite your presence, the people of the village are still going about their business.
You are used to the oni, but seeing these humans existing freely like this is making you very, very jealous (Do they remind you of something you lost, Parsee?). How come you can’t walk along under the sun like these happy couples laughing and strolling about the square? How come you have no prospect of starting a family like them? How come they get to live like this?
Because it’s already a miracle that you’re allowed to leave the bridge at all, hashihime.
The fruit stall owner winces as you accidentally crush the pear in your hand when clenching it, sending its juices and pulp splattering all over the place. Heaving heavily, you hastily make up an insincere apology, and take your leave.
You figure that the shrine maiden might show up to chastise you for showing up unannounced like that and causing a minor scene, but she never showed up. Not for the entire duration of your slow flight back underground.
You should consider it fortunate that unwanted goods such as yourself can lead a semblance of a normal life at all.
You bump into a stalagmite on your way down, then another. Cursing the world, you barely even notice the giant earth spider shadowing you as you make your way further underground.
“Hey, are you okay, traveller?” The spider says after you bump into a rock for the fifth time.
[ ] No, I am not okay. [ ] Yes, I’m fine. [ ] … [ ] ___________
>I had this large sword that seemed to be both magical and annoyingly vocal sealed up in the backroom that I wanted to get rid of Really hope this isn't referencing what I think it is, because the idea of Parsee meeting who I think that sword is in anything just makes me sick to my stomach, even now.
>>16790 I, uh, thought it may have been a reference to Zero no Tsukaima. The annoying, but magical sword being Derflinger. The other anon is referencing a crossover story where Parsee mind wipes him for basically no reason. Can't quite recall what it's called because I dropped it immediately after that chapter. The green-eyed, maybe?
[X] “YOU THINK I’M ANYWHERE NEAR OKAY? LOOK AROUND YOU, WE’RE LIVING IN THE EQUIVALENT OF A DUNGEON! WHAT’S THE POINT OF GIVEN THE CRUEL MERCY OF BEING ABLE TO SEE THE WORLD OUTSIDE WHEN YOU ARE BOUND TO THE UNDERGROUND? IT’S BASICALLY PAROLE FROM A PRISON WHERE YOU’RE CONFINED FOR ALL ETERNITY!”
“Uh, traveller, we’re not exactly bound. As long as we don’t disturb the surface-dwellers much we can live above-ground, it’s just...”
“YOU MAY NOT BE? BUT I AM! THAT BRIDGE! THAT DAMNED BRIDGE!” You angrily swing a fist at the nearest rock formation, leaving a sizeable crack in it. “I AM BOUND TO THAT DAMN BRIDGE AS THE TERMS FOR ME BEING ALLOWED TO LIVE IN GENSOKYO. THEY MADE ME IT’S GUARDIAN, BUT NEVER GAVE AN END DATE!”
“Wait, Mizuhashi?” The spider shifts in a blur, shedding its massive chitinous form and morphing into a more approachable humanoid one. “I didn’t recognize you...what got you so riled up?”
You hyperventilate as you punch the nearby rocks a few more times, before you let your raging envy calm down somewhat. “Kurodani, imagine that you were not just able to see the surface. Imagine your vision extending beyond the horizon, past the Hakurei Barrier and into the lands of Japan beyond that. Imagine that you can see even further than that, glimpsing the mountains and oceans, the forests and rivers, the varied lives of people. Imagine that you can see the whole world, trivially, through a few hand movements.”
“That sounds wonderful! Why...”
“Imagine being able to do that, and also being trapped in an unending task underground as the guardian spirit of a bridge, never being able to leave permanently lest the gods rip you away and push you back into your hole.”
Yamame skitters to your front, the six additional legs under her dress granting her purchase on sheer rock. “What’s gotten over you, Mizuhashi? I’ve never seen you speak more than a sentence about yourself. You always say what you envy in others, but not yourself.”
She leans over and gives a glance over your body, “You’re not sick, I would know that. So did something happen to you? You’ve never been quite this...honest about yourself before. Actually, it’s rare for anyone to just spill their guts in front of a random person like this.”
“The internet happened. Kurodani. A device from the Outside World showed me everything, and I realized that I’ve been a frog at the bottom of the well throughout these dusty years.” You drift down to the cave floor, while Yamame dangles down on a silk thread to your front, “Then again, I suppose it was either this or living out my short life as an unwanted...nevermind, I’ve said enough things to bother you.”
“It’s...it lets you talk with people from all over the world. It’s very complicated, but think of it like a very, very large convention.”
“Sounds like those telephone and radio thingies the kappa are trying to sell.” Yamame ponders the concept for a bit while she bounces on her silk. “But from the way you describe it, it sounds mostly to be a danger.”
“Danger?” You are baffled by her conclusion. “I mean, I know there are unscrupulous people who will try to scam you on the internet, but that’s the same for any public social thing.”
“No, no no. Alright, maybe I’m assuming and imagining too much.” Yamame goes back to being still, “But the kappa told me that a telephone is like a long string connecting two people so they could talk in two ways, and a radio connects many people to one person can say things one way to many people. From what you’re describing, the internet is a combination of those two, where many people can talk to many other people. It’s not a single string or a star pattern, it’s a web.”
“The internet is also called the web, you know?” You attempt to see her line of reasoning. “So, are you saying because it’s similar to a web, that it’s being used to trap people?”
“Not exactly.” Yamame says, “If the communication between people forms a web, then they are part of the web, and not something to be trapped. What I’m thinking is...what if a prey DID become trapped in the web, and began tearing it up, people and all, as it struggles to get out?”
You and Yamame stare at each other for a couple of moments. Then the urge becomes too great, and you let loose with uproarious laughter. “A HA HA HA! Oh, that is one hell of a stretch. That’s not how the internet works, like, at all!”
Yamame giggles in response, “Yeah, I’m just spitballing a theory based off of something I don’t really understand, but hey, you feel better, right?”
“Better...yeah. Thank you.” You say, uncharacteristically as usual.
Making your way down the cave, you end up back home without any incident. You do however realize that you left the stream on...and that there are still people watching!
“Hey everybody, sorry for the disappearing act. I had to run some errands.” You check the clock. The stream has been empty for approximately two hours, but twenty people are still on, occupied by talking to each other.
You settle back in your seat. Sure, the internet may remind you of things you’ll never have, but that should be normal and in-character for you. Can’t let that get in the way of the jealousy harvest.
>Hjarkbjorn: Hey Mizuhashi, what do you do when you’re not painting or streaming?
“I...uh...I maintain a bridge as my job. You know, cleaning it, painting it, repairing the parts that are falling apart.”
>SandwichEnthusiast: Sounds like hard work. You ever thought of making money streaming? You’re doing great so far.
You grimace. That is also a possibility which has been denied to you, “For...reasons, I don’t have a bank account that Twitch can access, and I can’t make one. I live out in a really remote area of the world so mailing me the money isn’t possible either.”
>Hjarkbjorn: Wow that really sux
>I_Am_Fire: The places that can get internet these days are amazing. Imagine email working but not regular snail mail.
Yeah, imagine that. Does even the surface have a functioning postal system? Is Gensokyo even populated enough to need one? One thing’s for sure, you’ve never gotten any mail from the time you’ve step foot in Japan to the time Yukari sent you the laptop.
>angery_robot: imagine being trapped in a place like that underground for 10,000 years. how terrible would that be hahaha
>SandwichEnthusiast: [MonkaS] … [MonkaS]
>WolfgangMozart: hey, can’t you make a Paypal account even without bank account info? While you can’t directly deposit the money you can still get paid.
Huh? This is news to you. “Paypal doesn’t require a bank account?”
>WolfgangMozart: Yeah! If you only have internet access you can still use Paypal to receive payments. You can’t spend it but you can access it later when you’re out of the boonies
That’s better than nothing. “Thanks for the advice, WolfgangMozart! I’ll do that right away!”
Paypal’s pretty easy to sign up for. Just type in the usual account creation information and you’re done. Linking it up to Twitch is also easy.
Watching the funds counter sit at zero. You then start to wonder if this is really a good idea. The money is still out of reach unless you link a bank account, so the funds you accumulate from Twitch will just be sitting there, tantalizing. It’s not like you’ll be leaving Gensokyo anytime soon.
But still, it’s better than letting it go to waste, right? Much like this stream. Gotta accrue that stream time so you can get Affiliate status!
[ ] Doodle something random on stream before late lunch [ ] Do a late lunch stream again [ ] Just eat the fruits you bought while chatting [ ] Do something else (Write-in)
'Just chatting' streams, yay. Reward and thank your viewers for sticking by (like for real, two hours and they immediately notice you coming back?), being there to listen and talk and divulge your deep seated frustrations like a good streamer would.