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16814
Thread 1: >>16546

[X] Just eat the fruits you bought while chatting

You reach into your pack for a pear. Taking a bite, you find it refreshingly cold and juicy, just what you need right now.

>puppetMaster204: Hey, Mizuhashi, what do you do for fun outside of painting? Being in the boonies and all.

“Um, normal human things.” You say as you take another bite out of the pear, “I socialize at bars, talk to people crossing the bridge and...play video games.”

>Yujin444: what’s your favorite band?

“The Prismrivers.” You say the name of the only named musical group you can remember, “They’re pretty obscure. They only have a presence over here where I’m living. I know none of you would’ve heard about them.”

>I_Am_Fire: I personally like Mili the most, you heard of them?

With deft fingers at an angle where chat can’t see you, you do a quick Google search. “Yeah, I really like uh...Iron Lotus.”

>I_Am_Fire: Oh! That’s my song

>I_Am_Fire: *my favorite song

>SandwichEnthusiast: do you take commissions, Mizuhashi? I really enjoy your style.

You consider that option for a few moments, and decide that more money is always nice, even if you can’t spend it right now. “Sure, I’ll put up the prices on my channel soon. What are you looking for?”

>SandwichEnthusiast: my wife’s expecting soon, so something warm and comfortable for the nursery

A sudden spike of your own jealousy strikes you, making you seize up enough to chomp right through the core of the pear you’re eating. Married people watch your stream? Didn’t Twitch’s own stats say that people on here are mostly young adolescent human males still wet behind the ears?

“...Sure, I can do something like that.” You physically swallow your jealousy, incarnated in the flesh and seeds of the pear. “I would like a more concrete depiction though.”

>SandwichEnthusiast: gimme a moment, let me talk to her

>drunk_cucumber: I think a cute dog or something simple like that would work

>I_Am_Fire: Or a panda! Kids love pandas!

“God I’m so jealous that you have a family.” You mutter out loud, before realizing that you’ve just said it live on stream for everyone to hear.

>Hjarkbjorn: [Biblethump]

>drunk_cucumber: [Biblethump]

>WolfgangMozart: you’re an orphan?

“Sort of...” The memories of your first life barely hang on like laundry in a storm, and the faces of those who raised you have long since been lost to the ravages of time on your memories. “I don’t know my parents, nor any aunts, uncles or similar.”

>WolfgangMozart: oh no, I’m sorry!

>Hjarkbjorn: [Biblethump] [Biblethump]

A stream of more crying emotes and short condolences follow them. You frown, that’s not what you really want your audience to feel about you.

“It’s fine, I try not to think of my past too much.” It is indeed a fruitless endeavor. Only pain lies there. You’ve ventured into your memories numerous times and the result has always been just that.

>Yujin444: but you can still start one right? like, get a boyfriend...or a girlfriend if you’re into that.

>Hjarkbjorn: [Kappa]

Oof, another stab at your sore spot. “That is not an option available to me, for many reasons. Please do not ask me questions along those lines in the future.”

>Yujin444: sorry

>SandwichEnthusiast: okay, so she said she wants a hedgehog

>Hjarkbjorn: GOTTA GO FAST

A hedgehog? What a simple request. “Yes, I can do that. A hedgehog shouldn’t take too long to paint. Probably done in one stream, the one after the next one. You should probably be on that stream so we can hash things out while I paint.”

>SandwichEnthusiast: damn you really are consistently fast

>Yujin444: You got a scanner now? You probably can’t do commissions by using the camcorder for the drawing.

“I got a printer with a scanner.” You say as you retrieve the box from within the pack, “When I stepped out earlier.”

>Yujin444: Awesome!

You continue chatting with your loyal audience for a while longer while eating, going back and forth about even more topics of your life (which you are having trouble finding things to say since you really didn't really do much outside of tending to the bridge) and the latest video games (which you haven’t been playing). During the times when they’re talking about things you either haven’t touched or Outside World subjects too distant for you to know or care, you just nod and carry on.

There wasn’t much jealousy to be had, but you said you were going to chat after the stream and you damn well were going to do it.

“Alright, I got to go now.” You say as one of your viewers finishes wrapping up an anecdote of how they fell into a lake when they were little. “See you guys in two days!”

>SandwichEnthusiast: Bye!

>I_Am_Fire: Bye!

>BobRoss: Good job today, I’m proud of you.

You stare at the last one as you clearly recognize that channel name. After staring at it for a bit more, you blink...and the chat message is still there. None of your other viewers seem to notice it in the stream of byes...or perhaps they couldn’t see it, but it is there, and clicking on the username brings you to Bob Ross’s official channel.

Is this another one of those hallucinations? You go back and forth between your stream chat and Bob Ross’s channel a few times. If it is a hallucination it’s oddly consistent with reality.

You need a nap.

Shutting off the stream, you swiftly shed off your outer layers of clothing and climb into the futon. It is high noon, and the Artificial Sun is at its brightest. Still, you feel unusually tired, and you doze off rather quickly.



...

Knock knock knock.

“Ugh.” It doesn’t feel like more than an hour before you are woken up by noise.

Knock knock knock...tap tap tap

Someone’s at your door again, and they’re not knocking in a regular pattern. Dreading who it could be, you throw on your shirt and cautiously approach the door.

Tap tap tap tap

“Coming!” You throw open the door. There’s just empty space in front of you. “WHO THE FUCK IS-”

A rasp below you diverts your eyes downwards. There’s a lot of blood, like enough to make you instinctively jerk back. You don’t quite recognize the pile of torn clothing and bleeding flesh that’s the source of the blood at first, but the torn yellow blouse, green skirt, and the somehow still intact tube holding a slashed eye.

“Komeiji Koishi?” You gasp. Of all people to end up like this...her?

The body stirs, recognizing the name. A mangled hand is still raised, and you can see its remnant stains on your door.

Fuck.

You hurriedly carry her in and place her on a spare futon (the one you won’t miss the most). With your kitchen scissors, you cut off as much of her torn clothes as you can, leaving a pile of rags on the floor. For the still-bleeding wounds, you bandage them as best as you can, disinfecting them with the strongest sake you have in the house and spending all of the gauze you have lying around to bind them, substituting in torn pieces of clothing when you can’t.

She’s breathing, but has fallen unconscious somewhere along the process. Looking over her wounds, you can see a combination of what looks like bite marks, whipping welts and lacerations all over her form, randomly distributed as if she was being torn apart by multiple entities at once.

[ ] Carry her to Satori as soon as possible. Her sister, her problem.
[ ] Maybe wait until you get some answers out of Koishi when she wakes up before deciding what to do.
>>16546
[X] Carry her to Satori as soon as possible. Her sister, her problem.
[x] INTO THE TRASH IT GOES
[x] Maybe wait until you get some answers [...]
-[x] Lock the door and stay 'noided.
-[x] Maybe barricade it for good measure.
Creepy shit happenin'. Somehow I doubt it's a good idea to head out in search of the monke right now. Even if it'd be better to just get rid of Koishit.

>an anecdote about how they fell into the lake
Splendid THP reference!

>I know none of you would've heard about them.
Mizuhipster Parsee
[x] Carry her to Satori as soon as possible. Her sister, her problem.

It'd be great if Parsee knew anyone (besides the Kappa) having working phones in Gensokyo.
Going off a tangent here, wouldn't it be theoretically possible to have nigh instant first aid service if Eirin had a phone and Kaguya used her ability of manipulating the instant and eternity to cut down travel time?
---
So we might as well meet up with Saori; she's better equipped to house and take care of her sister. Should it come to that, Parsee'll have the best chances with her to confide the nightmares and hallucinations since she can see what she saw through her mind reading.
[x] Maybe wait until you get some answers [...]
-[x] Lock the door and stay 'noided.
-[x] Maybe barricade it for good measure.

Of all the times not to be some kind of gun tsukumogami...
[x] Maybe wait until you get some answers [...]
-[x] Lock the door and stay 'noided.
-[x] Maybe barricade it for good measure.
[×] Maybe wait until you get some answers [...]
- [×] Lock the door and stay 'noided.
-- [×] Maybe barricade it for good measure.

Listen, she's just got hurt outside. Whether she came from the top or the bottom of the hell cave systems, the fact is there's freakin' danger outside. Remember that we saw something back in the underground city, and the last few days have been a bit weird overall. The perpetrator might very well be why Koishi is in the state she is now. Let's wait for her to recover first, inside the safety of our house.
[x] Maybe wait until you get some answers out of Koishi when she wakes up before deciding what to do.

The first step of staying out of trouble is "don't be there", so we should probably find out exactly what it is that constitutes "there".
[X] Carry her to Satori as soon as possible. Her sister, her problem.
[x] Maybe wait until you get some answers [...]
-[x] Lock the door and stay 'noided.
-[x] Maybe barricade it for good measure.

Maybe it's just me, but I've always viewed Parsee's job as being a glorified security guard. We mostly just stand around, keep the bridge in decent condition, and pop our head out if someone tries to cause trouble.

Now if someone gets injured on our bridge, it is suddenly our problem. Given that it is currently Koishi off all people who was injured (someone who should be incredibly hard to attack) I say we take the excuse not to go outside and guard Koishi.
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16824
[x] Maybe wait until you get some answers [...]
-[x] Lock the door and stay 'noided.
-[x] Maybe barricade it for good measure.

Door? Locked?

Door bar? Lain across and firmly in the slot.

Cabinet? Blocking the door. It won’t stop an oni but it’s better than nothing.

Windows? Shuttered tightly. You don’t have any planks and nails on hand so this will have to do.

Now, the waiting game. You sit in your armchair, with Koishi and the door within view and a knife in your hands. You...are not a martially disposed person. In fact, you are pretty sure you’re going to hurt yourself with the knife rather than hurt whatever’s coming through that door. But your instincts, residual human ones most likely, are making you feel uncomfortable without a weapon in your hand.

You stay like that for one hour. Then two hours. Then three. Unable to resist, you move the laptop over and surf the internet while Koishi continues to not wake up. You make sure to keep an eye on the door while you’re browsing though, and occasionally you’d turn to see if Koishi was vomiting on your futon with something. Surprisingly, she’s rather well behaved when unconscious. Appropriate.

“Ow...”

After about five hours of waiting, as the Artificial Sun begins to dim through the windows. Koishi stirs from the futon.

“Hey you, you’re finally awake.” You can’t help but recite something you got tricked to watch on Youtube while you were browsing. “Got caught in that Imperial ambush huh? Same as us, and that horse thief over there.”

“Horse thief? Wha...Owww...” Koishi moves as if every part of her body is hurting, which to be fair, they are. She stares at the bandages and rags that make up her new clothing, and then at the dried blood caked all over your futon. Finally, she draws her attention to you, who hasn’t moved from your position in the armchair yet.

“Miss...Mizuhashi?” She says, rather hesitant in tone as she surveys the rest of the living room. “Where am I?”

“You’re in my house...you’re telling me you’ve never snuck in here before?” You ask, with some dulled surprise.

“I thought you lived in the river under the bridge! This is your house?” She looks around some more. “It’s a really nice house!”

“Thanks?” You’re unsure if the feeling you’re getting is jealousy or not. From the few interactions you’ve had with the younger satori, her emotions are of a vastly different flavor than those of a sane person. “So, mind explaining how you ended up like this on my doorstep?”

“Trees.”

You blink. She doesn’t. “Trees?”

“Yeppers. I stumbled into some trees and they did this to me! They tore and whipped at me with thorned branches, even as I tried to get out of their range. The squirrels, birds, there were also strange. They were foaming at the mouth and screeching the whole time as they attacked me.”

Your mind tries its best to make some sense out of this. “Like, tree youkai? No, that doesn’t explain the animals. We don’t have that many trees underground in the first place, where was this?”

Koishi takes a really long time to recover her memories, and you note with some apprehension that he slashed eye appears to still be moving despite the fact that you bandaged the whole place. “I think it was a little ways into side of the way to the surface? It was a cave that I hadn’t seen before, and there were a lot of trees I haven’t seen before inside of it...then I got attacked :(”

You cringe as you feel your subconscious being assailed by a wave of pained memories. “Argh, you mind not doing that? Also, were the trees moving?”

“Just the branches were moving. Hey, Misses, have you seen moving trees before?”

You take a peek through the windows. No trees.

Cautiously, you un-barricade the door, shoving the chairs back towards the dining table and pushing the cabinet back to the side of the living room where it belongs. You then slowly raise the door bar and open the door just a bit. Nothing outside on this side either. You let out a sigh of relief.

“Miss Komeiji, quick question, did you have your uh, usual thing activated when you were exploring that cave?”

“Yeppers!”

That is not good. If such a grove of monstrous trees exists so close to your house, then you might be getting either more injured guests, or less people crossing the bridge. This is technically your responsibility to handle too, as Satori would likely maintain.

First you’ll be carrying Koishi back to the Palace of the Earth Spirits, then...

[ ] Tell the elder sister about this, and invite the hell raven for a little spot of slash and burn
[ ] Don’t emphasize it too much to the elder sister, and inform Yuuka about this new development.
[ ] Do something else: ________
[x] Don’t emphasize it too much to the elder sister, and inform Yuuka about this new development.

I was going to go with getting Okuu, but:
1) we've already brought in Yuuka for the other tree
2) she might get upset at us burning down a forest, no matter how justified we were
3) Yuuka is just as good at Okuu at burning everything to the ground when necessary.
[x] Tell the elder sister about this, and invite the hell raven for a little spot of slash and burn

Our responsibilities kind of still exist, don't they?
[x] Don’t emphasize it too much to the elder sister, and inform Yuuka about this new development.

If she doesn't want it, we can always grab Okuu later.
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16828
[x] Don’t emphasize it too much to the elder sister, and inform Yuuka about this new development.
[x] Take up residence in one of the spare rooms at the Palace.
Monkes got room. Screw the trees.
[x] Don’t emphasize it too much to the elder sister, and inform Yuuka about this new development.

Trees are serious business.
[x] Tell the elder sister about this, and invite the hell raven for a little spot of slash and burn

birb
Even when reading touhou fanfiction I can't escape the Skyrim opening sequence.
I wonder how big of a deal the slashed eye is going to be (to Satori especially).

[x] Don’t emphasize it too much to the elder sister, and inform Yuuka about this new development.
So what precisely is this? Saigyou Ayakashi, or cuttings from it? Malicious tree youkai? Koishi getting drunk and accidentally blundering into tree branches? Eirin's shady drugs?

Seems dangerous.

But tbh I not sure if the slashed eye is going to do anything. It's not like she'd been using it.
[X] Don’t emphasize it too much to the elder sister, and inform Yuuka about this new development.

>>16825
I mostly agree with this anon's points, We don't want to piss off Yuuka if we already have her attention on the area.
Plus it has the bonus of not turning a cavern into irradiated lava.
>>16833
Conceptual leakage from the outside, probably. Consider the Bob Ross hallucinations and the Murakami melting Twitch man.
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16836
[X] Don’t emphasize it too much to the elder sister, and inform Yuuka about this new development.

Carrying Koishi on your back wasn’t an altogether unpleasant experience. For starters, the girl is a lot quieter than she is usually, only occasionally speaking out to comment on some piece of Old Hell architecture she finds interesting and wished to share with you. She is also a very complacent rider, not fidgeting or squirming, or at least you can’t feel it if she was doing such movements.

“MISS KOMEIJI!” You call out as you touch down in the courtyard of the Palace of Earth Spirits. “MISS KAENBYOU! I have the younger mistress here and she needs tending to! Bring all the first aid stuff you have!”

Loud scuffling and the sound of animals yowling can be heard immediately after you call out. Seems like the elder sister was busy tending to her massive menagerie of pets. The pitter-patter of slippered feet can then be heard resonating through the house (your pointy ears aren’t just for looks after all!) for a good minute until the door is thrown open.

Komeiji Satori rushes out with a large bag of medical supplies. “KOISHI!” She shouts as she sees her battered sister on your back. “What did you get into this time!? You’re all...cut up! This is terrible!”

“I didn’t do anything wrong, sis!” The younger satori whines as her sister lifts her from your back and hurriedly, with fleet footsteps you don’t expect from such a recluse, into the mansion and up the stairs. You have to remind yourself that Satori, for all of her habits, is still a youkai just like you, and someone who was born as one, no less. She can easily carry the weight of a person and run without any issues.

Naturally, you follow her, floating up the stairs after Satori.

“Oh for hell’s sake, I can’t...” Satori, after settling down Koishi on a bed, stares at you for a few moments with her third eye. “So you just found her like this?”

“What you can read is what happened. I’m hiding nothing.” You reply, coolness in your voice even as you replay the events of the past couple hours in your head. Just like most people, you’re not exactly thrilled to have your mind read even if you are cooperating.

“...Thank you for helping her. Miss Mizuhashi.” Satori says after finishing the scan. You note that while she’s reading your mind, her hands are busy re-dressing Koishi’s wounds. “I will have one of my pets retrieve a replacement futon for you as well as replacement medical supplies.”

“Just doing my duty as bridgekeeper.” You force a smile to your face.

Satori pauses, her third eye squinting, before nodding. “I will give you something extra this month.” Turning towards Koishi, she then asks, in a voice both firm and concerned, “Koishi, tell me what exactly did this to you?”

“Trees! Very mean and nasty trees and the animals which live in them.”

Satori raises an eyebrow, “Trees?”

You clear your throat, “She said she was attacked by trees with thorned, whipping branches and animals with frothing mouths. It’s probably a new group of feral youkai that have grown and taken up residence in the caves near the bridge.”

“Feral youkai?” Satori looks positively incredulous. “Koishi, did you really let feral youkai see you, much less let them get the better of you?”

Koishi vigorously shakes her head. “I didn’t let down my guard, not one sec! But even so, the trees somehow knew I was there, and attacked without any warning!”

Satori begins to say something, then stops as she scans your surface thoughts again. “Miss Mizuhashi, you’re going to take care of this yourself?”

“Affirmative, I know somebody topside who specializes in dealing with flora. She’ll handle this situation.” You’ve known Yuuka only because Ibuki Suika, that oni who comes down regularly to drink with her fellow Diva of the Mountain and historical heavyweight, told you about her. She did so in the context of you asking for someone to help with decorating your front yard.

Yuuka was surprisingly pleasant about it. That still didn’t stop you from quivering the whole time she was at your house. Even now you’re not exactly comfortable dealing with her, but for this sort of thing there really is no better option.

“Very well, I shall leave it in your hands then, bridgekeeper.” Satori turns and gestures at several animals around the doorway to the room, who scurry off. “My pets will retrieve your compensation. Do you wish to enjoy a cup of tea in the parlor while waiting?”

“Thank you, Miss Komeiji. But...” A thought comes to your mind. You don’t get to meet with Satori very often. While normally you’d consider that a good thing, right now…

“...You have something you wish for me to examine in your head?” Satori finishes your thought.

“As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’ve been having nightmares and hallucinations recently, and they don’t seem to be letting up.” You confide, “If anyone can tell the reason for them, it’ll be you.”

Satori looks over Koishi again, then nods and says, “Let’s go to another room.”

You follow her into the solar of the mansion. It is a very nice room, with the full glory of the Artificial Sun shining through its great windows, illuminating the tastefully arranged paintings along the walls. The furniture here is notably more ornate than those in the rest of the mansion, and a western-style fireplace blazes merrily in the corner of the room. You get more than a little jealous. Why do you have to stay in a relative hovel?

“Sit down and relax.” Satori orders, pouring you a cup of tea from a teapot carried over by a bird. “Calm yourself down as much as you can, and try your best to not resist.”

You slowly drink the tea, while doing as Satori tells you. Her intrusion is gentle, but very noticeable, as she slowly sorts through your memories, going through the past couple of days one after the other and filtering out everything mundane. It feels much like someone breathing in your ear and through your brain, very unpleasant, but endurable.

Satori freezes up and closes her eyes as she seems to reach one of the memories, then coughs as she reaches another. Slowly, she goes from her upright position into a slouch, and then her head tilts off to the side, as if she’s straining against something.

Then, her eyes, all three of them, open wide and stare at you, causing you to recoil. She lets out a couple panting breaths, then composes herself and sits back upright again.

“Miss Mizuhashi...to put it in a cliched way, I have some good news, and some bad news. Unfortunately, they’re the same news.”

“And that is?”

“You’re not hallucinating.”

You involuntarily spit out the tea you’ve been drinking all over the table. “I’m not hallucinating?! Then what are the things I’ve been seeing?”

“I have not the faintest clue.” Satori says, her tone full of concern, “But none of the memories I went through with the unusual things you were seeing had the frayed marks of a hallucination on them. Even worse, this includes the nightmare I was able to dredge up. From what I can gather at least, everything you saw was real, one way or another.”

You slump down in your chair. All real? How in the world is that possible? Does that mean….

[ ] Maybe you should get the shrine maiden to take a look at things now
[ ] Getting Yuuka to annihilate the current problems is the best step
[ ] HELP ME BOB ROSS!
[X] HELP ME BOB ROSS!
[X] HELP ME BOB ROSS!
And the Lord will come to me in the night and he will deliver me from the evil at my doors and also teach me how to paint a lake amen.
[X] HELP ME BOB ROSS!
I mean he'll probably tell us to call Raymoo but
>>16839
And in that case we'll call reimu, but until then I dont see no afro on that shrine maiden.
[x] Let Satori decide your further course of action

She's the one in charge of Old Hell and since the stuff in the not-hallucinations could be impacting the whole of the place it should be her call, honestly.
Since it feels slimy to make a choice that amounts to 'You choose, OP', I'm gonna add:

-[x] [Suggest] Getting Yuuka to annihilate the current problems is the best step

Maybe a logical argument will reveal itself to me later, my reasoning for now is: "Sleeping Terror waking nightmares."
I will not elaborate on this.
[x] HELP ME BOB ROSS!

Let's just panic instead, shall we?
[x] Satori things are going sideways,help!

Otherwise
-[x] Getting Yuuka to annihilate the current problems is the best step

Funny, since she also knows a good amount dream realities. Odd, that.
[x] Getting Yuuka to annihilate the current problems is the best step
>>16842
We don't know how 'real' these not-hallucinations are (I won't call them premonitions - yet).
For all we know they could just as well be outside world concepts bleeding in or effects of thought manipulations that Parsee's mind perceives as real cooked up by a someone we (don't) know.

On the off-chance it is someone else's doing and on the off-chance they're malicious I wouldn't want to lean in further into the illusion world created by them.

That being said, I just don't see this choice resulting in more than a short comedic Bob Ross cameo that's shoved inbetween the plot.
[ X] HELP ME BOB ROSS!
[X] HELP ME BOB ROSS!
BEAT THE DEVIL OUT OF IT
[X] HELP ME BOB ROSS!
-[X] Getting Yuuka to annihilate the current problems is the best step
File 163356593417.png - (817.72KB, 517x745, bob_ross_img.png) [iqdb]
16849
[X] HELP ME BOB ROSS!

You don’t want to. You don’t even like that man, not one bit. But he’s the friendliest of your not!Hallucinations, so you don’t have much of a choice but to consult...Bob Ross.

“Help me, Bob Ross.” You mutter to the air as you take ahold of the teapot. Taking another cup from the shelf, you pour a cup of tea and set it aside. Satori watches you silently, and not commenting even though she can see your intentions clearly.

“This is a fine cup of tea, thank you.” Comes the gentle, baritone voice.

You don’t notice him appearing in at the side of the table. But he’s there, afro and all, sipping on the tea with none of the grace of the Japanese style, but all of the honesty of a Westerner.

“Satori...”

“I can see him in your mind. I cannot see him with my own eyes.” Satori replies before you finish your thought.

You watch as Bob Ross sets down the cup of tea, having drained it. “You must be worried sick about all of these things happening to you Parsee, and you want answers.”

“I really don’t want to beg a hallucination for answers,” You sigh, “But you seem like a person who would cooperate.”

“I’m not some sort of fixer. I’m just a painter of the world.” Bob Ross looks off into the window, at the dimming Artificial Sun shining upon the streets of Old Hell. “But I know this much, Parsee: keep doing what you are doing, and eventually you’ll have to realize something about yourself. As for why you are seeing these things...it is because you’ve established connections to the Outside World. But, you have one misconception.”

“Which is?”

“That the Outside World is limited to the facts you can see and hear.”

You are confused. “What do you mean? That the internet is a limited view? That because I haven’t stepped foot outside Gensokyo in a long time, things are happening beyond my knowledge?”

Bob Ross smiles, and shakes his head, “No, my friend. You wouldn’t know even if you did live Outside. What I’m saying is that in our wondrous world, there are hidden things, mysterious things, some might say...frightening things, hidden between the lines.”

“So what you’re saying is that one of these hidden things...came from the Outside World into Gensokyo?”

“I wouldn’t call it a thing. It’s more of a concept. A thought. From my perspective, it’s an infantile one, but that’s just the observations of an old man.”

You are even more confused now than before. “What do you mean, a concept? Can you explain it like you do with your paintings, Mr. Ross?”

“Again, I’m just a painter. Such things are above my comprehension aside from surface observations. An occultist or someone similarly versed in the studies of the supernaturally unusual would be better suited to answering that question.”

Your confusion boils over into laughter, “Ha! Mr. Ross, aren’t you and I both part of the supernaturally unusual already?”

“Yes, but do you really know yourself?” Bob Ross gives you a wink, and then vanishes.

You drink, emptying your teacup as you turn back towards Satori. “You have any idea...?”

“My eye hurts just observing that.” She says while massaging said organ, “From my mundane senses, you’re having a conversation entirely inside your head. However, your thoughts are clearly receiving stimuli from an external source...oww...this is something the youkai of boundaries is better off dealing with.”

Again, Yukari probably has the answer to your questions. The problem is that the damn gap hag is never around when you need her. “And what are your thoughts on what Bob Ross said?”

“So that was the Bob Ross I’ve heard the oni mention? He has a soothing voice, and doesn’t seem like the big tough guy they were describing. Still, he’s definitely a spirit of some sort, right? Not a living person?”

“Something like that. My sources say that he died several decades ago.” You honestly have more questions than you did before, but at least Bob Ross gave you a general idea of where to go next. “Thanks for helping me with this problem, Miss Komeiji. I’ll get to the bottom of this and make sure that the people crossing the bridge are safe from any flaying trees.”

“My pleasure.” Satori replies, before turning to one of the cats coming into the room (obviously Orin, with the two tails) and ordering, “Please help Miss Mizuhashi carry the goods back to her home.”

The cat meows in reply, and goes off into the hallway. You set aside the teacup, give a courtesy bow, and turn to leave.

“Oh, Miss Mizuhashi, if I may comment on something else.”

You turn back around. “And that is?”

“You’re acting much more open and happy than you usually are. Did something good happen to you recently?”

Instinctively, you are about to dismiss her like you did with Orin, but then a better thought comes to mind, “Yes, something good did happen, a very good thing.” You answer her with a satisfied smile, careful to hide the details from your surface thoughts, “I no longer have to hunt for my food. I have another source now, and it is delicious and bountiful.”

“Oh, that must be why the oni report the bridge being easier to cross these days.” Satori answers your smile with a small smile of her own, “Enjoy yourself then.”

=====

The animals, birds mostly, but also Orin in cat form, carry the things all the way back to your house. Feeling generous, you share some of the contents of your pantry with them. Rice for the birds, and a smoked small fish for the kasha. They seem to appreciate it, enough that you don’t feel guilty for directing them inside the house to store the items as well.

“Must be really nice to have so many servants around all the time.” You mutter to yourself as you watch the animals fly off back to Satori. As usual, you are jealous of Satori.

Now, back to your job. You ought to take care of those trees, wherever they are. For that you’ll need to call in Yuuka. But what about the subject Bob Ross mentioned? You don’t know any occultists, but…

[ ] You’ve heard there’s a Great Library at the vampire’s mansion. Maybe somebody there can help?
[ ] If there’s anyone who knows about occult things, it ought to be the shrine maiden, right?
[ ] There’s that new god who showed up recently who’s allegedly a Sage. Her domain is hidden things, so perhaps she would know something?
[ ] Write-in
[x] There’s that new god who showed up recently who’s allegedly a Sage. Her domain is hidden things, so perhaps she would know something?

"Parsee summons the spirit of Bob Ross" is definitely not what I expected when I started reading this
This is seriously looking like Sumi's bailiwick, outside world supernatural shenanigans. That said, she's not in the options and I hate write ins that aren't small tweaks, and I also don't know if Parsee knows she exists so
[X] There’s that new god who showed up recently who’s allegedly a Sage. Her domain is hidden things, so perhaps she would know something?
[x] There’s that new god who showed up recently who’s allegedly a Sage. Her domain is hidden things, so perhaps she would know something?
REJECT COCKROACH, ASS GOD NOW
[x] There’s that new god who showed up recently who’s allegedly a Sage. Her domain is hidden things, so perhaps she would know something?
How do you even summon Okina? Do you just shove your ass in the air and hope a door pops open?
[x] There’s that new god who showed up recently who’s allegedly a Sage. Her domain is hidden things, so perhaps she would know something?

We going wheelchair drifting. This is priority one boys.
[x] Consult Yuyuko

Who knows more about dead spirits than her? Also because MY CAPTCHA TOLD ME TO
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[x] There’s that new god who showed up recently who’s allegedly a Sage. Her domain is hidden things, so perhaps she would know something?

>>16853 Yes.
[x] There’s that new god who showed up recently who’s allegedly a Sage. Her domain is hidden things, so perhaps she would know something?

Something something exploring Parsee's backdoor something something.
[x] Consult Yuyuko

Sounds like an interesting idea
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[X] There’s that new god who showed up recently who’s allegedly a Sage. Her domain is hidden things, so perhaps she would know something?

You’ve only visited the Garden of the Sun a few times, despite the fact that it’s fairly close to the entrance to the underworld. It is indeed very pretty, but in a way that puts you ill at ease. The sunflowers that grow tall and proud along the paths always seem a little too overbearing for comfort. The fairies that dart in and out amongst the flowers are also unusually reticent, preferring to stay away from visitors rather than engage with surprise danmaku. And the fruits that you can taste are just a bit off in flavor.

Of course, that could just be you being weird.

“Miss Kazami!” You call out to the youkai standing in the middle of a meadow. “I could use your help with some more plants.”

“Mizuhashi, is it?” She turns around, and you involuntarily step back. She has a slasher smile on her face, to a degree which is just above “I’m going to kill you.”

“Um...”

“The tree you introduced me to has been...extraordinary.” She points with her parasol at a distant patch of dirt.

There stands the tree, withered and drooping, clearly dead...alongside all the plants in a three-meter radius around it.

“Um...”

“It is by all identifying marks a normal American Red Maple, but it is a really hungry urchin. Sapping the life out of the soil and giving nothing back. Until it starved to death, anyway.” Yuuka swings her parasol over her shoulder. “So, what are you here for?”

“Um...I think there’s more of them, growing in a cavern near my bridge. They’ve gotten someone hurt so I’m looking for someone to, well, take care of the problem. And you’re the expert here. Also,” You say in a careful, measured tone. “One of my, um, sources told me to seek out someone with experience in the occult and the hidden, so I was wondering if you know how to find that one god with the doors and stuff.”

“Matara-jin?” The youkai of Four Seasons tilts her head, “Matara-jin...she is a god, have you tried praying to her?”

“I don’t need her blessings as a deity, I need her expertise in hidden things.” You reply, “I need someone to personally come down underground and see what the hell is going on with these trees and the weird dreams I’ve been having.”

Yuuka’s smug look abruptly changes to one of concern, “Strange dreams? You’ve been having strange dreams too?”

“Wait, you too?” You are surprised...and somewhat relieved that someone is in the same predicament as you.

Yuuka quickly shifts back to her dangerous expression. “Well, I suppose the root cause would be the poisonous tree I received from you, as the dreams came right after planting it in my Garden.”

“Does it involve a giant tree overtaking everything in a city?”

“No, it does not. My dreams were of walking through a desolate, grey desert under an equally grey sky, with no signs of life anywhere. Occasionally I’d see the husk of a tree, a battered ruin of a house, or the skeleton of an animal...or human...sticking out from the dusty sands. All the while, I was watched by something in the far distance, but the howling wind blowing the sand around makes it difficult to see.” Yuuka frowns, “I had three or four of these dreams, and they stopped after the tree withered up.”

“So the tree causes bad dreams, eh? What a weird youkai.” You don’t quite know what to make of Yuuka’s dream. It doesn’t sound similar to the creepy dream you had. But it does sound creepy in its own way. “Regardless...”

“It’s not a youkai, Miss Mizuhashi.”

“Huh?”

“It’s not a youkai.” Yuuka’s face reflects just a shred of genuine worry, “It doesn’t have a soul. In fact, it responds less to songs than the other plants. I can only discern that it is poisonous, but not much more.”

“Huh...” You scratch your head, “No soul...well, it sounds like something we ought to consult Matara-jin for. You have any idea of how to get her to show up?”

“Considering how you’ve been calling upon her name repeatedly, she’s already sent a servant.” Yuuka tilts her head at something behind you. “See?”

You turn around and let out a very human-girly shriek as you see the person crawling out of a door that had opened on your back without you even noticing. Dressed in a tasteful magenta dress with a rather neutral culture, and with an eboshi on her head, this person is, well, someone you’re not familiar with. But she is definitely a Gensokyean.

“Hyeh!” She springs out of the door and lands with an agile tumble on the ground. The door closes behind her, and disappears shortly after, leaving you somewhat bewildered.

“Nishida Satono, answering your call.” Satono dusts herself off and bows, “What might this seeker of Lady Matara be in need of?”

“An explanation for the mysterious bad dreams and poisonous trees we’ve been getting.” Yuuka answers for you, “As your master trades in hidden information, consulting her is a logical thing to do.”

“Poisonous trees?” She follows Yuuka’s pointed parasol to the circle of desolation left by the sapling. “Ah, that kind of poison! We’ve never seen it come from a tree before, but that grey-ish desolation is a sickness of the mind. It’s a poison that latches on to the soul, and can induce despair in even plants and bacteria!”

“Eh? Can bacteria even feel despair?” You ask, incredulous.

“With the proper magical intervention, they can. This is very rare though, very very rare. Last time we’ve seen it was during a...” Satono freezes up, and then coughs loudly, “Ahem Ahem. Before I reveal that knowledge, I must follow Lady Matara’s directives and purify both of you first. I can draw out the bad mental energy of the disease, but you two will have to sever it yourselves.”

“And how will we do that?”

“It’s different for everyone, and probably easier if you do it to each other rather than yourselves.” Satano moves to a position between you and Yuuka, and begins a gentle, fluttering dance. “Turn around, and close your eyes.”

With some suspicion, you do just that. Then you feel a sudden jolt, as if you are falling, and you involuntarily open your eyes.

====

BGM ♫: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_4jXySUgLM
[Abnormality First Warning - LOR version]

You find yourself still standing in the Garden of the Sun, except it seems odd. The sunflowers are all drooping, and their petals are a pale, deathly yellow. No sound of insects or fairies can be heard, just the sound of a large wind blowing through the plants, making a crumbly sound. Wait, a crumbly sound?

You look past the sunflowers. All of the other plants appear to be dead.

The sky is unusually grey despite there being no clouds, and you can’t see the sun. You try to fly upwards to get a better look, but nothing happens. Flight magic doesn’t seem to work here. You do succeed in conjuring up some danmaku bullets though, so you’re not completely defenseless

You then turn your attention to something that is in front of you. What appears to be Yuuka is standing under the tree, with her back turned to you. From what you can see, however, her hair is greying, and her dress is tattered. She doesn’t have her parasol either.

[ ] Confront
[ ] Ambush
[ ] Walk Away
[x] Ambush

what the fuck
[x] Confront

I need that before battle banter, pretty epic.
It's hard to decide on what to do with little information like this, but ehh... fuck it:

[×] Ambush

My guts are telling me that provoking Withered Yuuka from the get go is not a good idea, but Satono said that we must deal with each other's soul sickness.

I sincerely hope I'm correct in guessing that she probably just made it straightforward and did us clean, like, "here's your enemy, now fight it".
[×] Ambush
To defeat Yuuka you need every advantage.
[×] Ambush
I'm not sure this is the right option even if ots the one I'm choosing. If its a matter of despair then it very well may *require* us to talk. But my hindering is telling me shoot now, so I'm going to vote to shoot.
[x] Ambush

Neat stuff going on.
'Sickness of the mind' 'latches onto the soul' leads me to believe what we're seeing are the particular symptoms the 'grey desolation' has on Yuuka. If I had to guess it's something like a parasite and I'm basing a lot of my conclusions that follow off of that. If it were that, it seemed fitting that Bob Ross would describe it as an 'infantile thought'.
Comparing it to Parsee's nightmare, I'd equate the zombified underground dwellers with the wilting flowers and the grey skies and desert with the missing artificial sun.
The difference looks to be that Yuuka has not directly encountered the core "being" of her dreams; while she found dried up bones, dead trees and empty huts she was 'watched by something' but it never revealed itself to her. She simply wandered a grey and desolate place. It could be that whatever "it" is doesn't want to confront Yuuka directly.
Parsee is far easier prey or rather a less resistant host, thus more volatile dreams and hallucinations. There's also the voice that exploits the painful memories of her past life; remember her trip to the surface. It all comes from the same source, I think.

I honestly doubt that what we're seeing is really already 'the sickness' but rather, repeating myself here, one of the apparitions it spawns.
Instead I'd want to walk away and see if we can find what has been watching Yuuka in her dreams. I've already had the thought that it the distant figure could have been Parsee somehow, but it fails to make sense since it was specifically the planting of the tree that caused her dreams.
This seems like a pretty important coice right now, so I want to know what you think.

[x] Walk Away
[x] Confront
>>16866
This is a well-thought-out argument, and I agree with your interpretation of Withered Yuuka. However, Saitono is currently drawing "out the bad mental energy of the disease”, which requires Yuuka and Parsee to "sever" it themselves. These instructions, which come directly from Okina's servant and by proxy Okina herself, imply:
>That Parsee and Yuuka are encountering the manifestation of each other's disease; and
>That this disease is to be attacked and destroyed.
I think Parsee should attack Withered Yuuka with extreme prejudice. Not convinced that I should change my vote.
[x] Walk Away
No idea what the fuck's happening, but it feels too easy to just walk up, love tap a fake yook, and suddenly winrar. Way too suspicious.
>>16868
>drawing out the bad mental energy of the disease
Honest to god blanked that part out of my memory somehow.
With that choking out grandma yuuka looks sensible.
[x] Ambush

Now this hasn't got anything to do with the current vote but the notification about the twitch being compromised in the first thread hits pretty different with current news going on.
[x] Ambush
Nah man, I ain't messing around with this.

>>16870
Damn, Parsee's internet connection is messing with Twitch security on our side. Stupid border nonsense.
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[X] Ambush

If this disease needs to be physically severed, then you must go on the attack. You’re not used to fighting without danmaku, but you’re still a youkai, with all of the flesh-ripping strength that implies.

Taking a moment to get ready, you then lunge forward, crossing the distance between you and “Yuuka” in an instant. Aiming for her neck, you succeed in stretching your fingers around it and squeezing.

Bones crack and blood vessels burst as you compress, distorting “Yuuka”’s flesh like so much taffy.

Then, with a loud “pop”, the head comes right off in a spray of dust. It rolls for a bit in front of you revealing a heavily cracked face, like the surface of a dirt road after months of drought, and empty eye sockets. You can’t help but stare into those pits of darkness for a few moments, until you suddenly feel something grab ahold of your wrist.

“Yuuka” flings you aside with great force, sending you crashing into a copse of dead flowers. Gritting your teeth, you look up to see the headless body flail around for a bit, swinging at the air with great force. It moves oddly, the limbs flapping in a way that reminds you of a marionette. A strange light is also coming out of the neck stump, with a strange color that you can’t quite discern.

“So it can live with out a head?” You mutter to yourself. “Let’s try the heart then.”

You walk around the “Yuuka”, looking to see if it reacts at all to your movement. Seeing no sign, you make another lunge, aiming to drive your fist straight through its chest.

“Kikikikikiki...”

“Yuuka” lets out some strange noises as it flings itself away from your strike. Again, like a marionette, without any leg motion other than a drifting movement. It then flings itself back over immediately, much to your surprise, and knocks you down.

You roll immediately to avoid the puppet’s fist punching down on you, and sweep your leg in response, aiming to trip it. You succeed in making the legs flail, but it doesn’t fall down. Rather, it only continues to “stand” in place, aiming flailing arm after flailing arm at your general direction.

You scoot back and pop yourself back upright. The thing isn’t very smart, or perhaps it can’t sense things as well with its head removed? It sure can’t use magic, but it is very tough, and quite agile. If only you had some spell that could cheat your way past its martial skills…

Oh right, you do!

“Tongue Cut Sparrow: Large Box and Small Box!” You declare, holding your spell card up in the air. Bullets begin firing out from your location, bright but harmless danmaku bullets. More importantly though, you conjure up a doppelganger, formed of foam and shadow.

Your doppelganger moves first, with a springing pounce onto the marionette. It is easily dodged as the marionette leaps away...right into a massive burst of bullets from your hand. Danmaku bullets don’t kill, of course, but they do hurt like hell, and throwing enough mud at the wall will eventually bring some sort of result, right?

The marionette crumples back slightly from the danmaku barrage, then rears up, and charges straight at you. Thinking quickly, you step off to the side and have your doppelganger come in for a block. It steps in, crossing its arms as the puppet connects with its fist. The doppelganger is sent flying back, but it buys you just enough time to step back in while the marionette is wide open.

You stiffen your hand into a claw, yell, and thrust. Your hand pierces its cracked skin and shatters glass as it penetrates the thing’s chest. Feeling something pulsating, you squeeze. Something splatters all over your hand, and the marionette jitters a few times, before finally falling still.

You pull your hand out, allowing the body to fall to the ground. It is covered in some strange fluid, again with a strange color you can’t quite discern. It feels like a cross between red and green, but any effort for your brain to compare it to something you’ve seen before just generates headaches.

“Done here?” Satono’s voice calls out, seemingly from above. “I can sense her mental energy clearing up.”

“I suppose so.”

=====

You blink. The blue sky is laid out before your eyes on the front, and dirt digs into your hair on the back. With aching limbs you push yourself back up.

You’re back in the real Garden of the Sun. The saturated colors come as a relief. You had worried that you might’ve been trapped in that mental landscape.

“You’ve been out for almost ten minutes.” Yuuka says, “Was my infection that dug in?”

“Ten minutes? It felt much shorter than that.” You scratch your head, getting some of the dirt off of it. “Your infection was agile and hard to catch, and I’m not exactly a fighter. Not everyone can just blow apart foes with magic like you...”

“True.” Yuuka then turns to Satono, “Miss Nishida, there’s a grove of similarly possessed trees underground. Would you mind accompanying us down there?”

“Um...” Satono acts stiff for a few moments, as if listening to a voice only she could hear, before resuming talk. “Yes, I will. But I must ask that Miss Mizuhashi not to accompany us.”

“What?” You protest, “The bridge is my responsibility! I should definitely be there to make sure that other people don’t get all the—-I mean, to make sure that the extermination process is complete.”

Satono sighs, “Miss Mizuhashi, can I share something with you?”

“Yes?”

She leans in and whispers in your ear, while Yuuka pretends not to notice. “The disease affects those with unresolved issues the most. If you go, the chance of re-infection is high. It may even be worse that what you had, since you reported that there’s an increased density of the trees.”

“What no! I don’t have...issues...Hey, what is this disease's origin anyway? You haven't told us...”

“No seriously, trust Lady Matara on this one. The threat posed by this disease is beyond your duty to handle as a bridgekeeper. It is...not something from Gensokyo.”

[ ] Insist that you go along anyway
[ ] Take Satono’s advice and stay away and do something else
[x] Take Satono’s advice and stay away and do something else
It's not really Satono's advice, so it should probably be heeded, considering it's coming from the resident obscure bullshit master.
[X] Take Satono’s advice and stay away and do something else
-[x] Such as shilling your art to the surface dwellers

Got to find something to do whilr stuck up here
[X] Take Satono’s advice and stay away and do something else.

Yup, lets do something else like surf the internet. Totally safe.
[x] Take Satono’s advice and stay away and do something else

let's go exploring I guess
[X] Take Satono’s advice and stay away and do something else

When people I know have issues they don't do pansy stuff like "confront them in a safe and controlled manner," or "attempt to seek help with their developing mental issues," they go find the nearest place with alcohol and get blackout drunk like really mfs. Go get so riddled with alcohol that a stray spark could immolate the surrounding area within a seven meter radius parsee!

Or do something that isn't intensely self destructive, if you want to be boring.
Parsee's surface adventure, now without disembodied voices ruining the mood.

[X] Take Satono’s advice and stay away and do something else.
[×] Take Satono’s advice and stay away and do something else

What better way to wallow in our jealousy than drinking our ass off in the nearest seedy bar like a hentai character straight outta netorare.

Or do a surprise stream? Idk, loads of possibilities. Maybe wander around town looking for that twitch mod apparition again?
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[X] Take Satono’s advice and stay away and do something else.

Something else eh? Something else...well, you could always tour around the surface for a bit. You’re well stocked up on fruits, but there’s always more to look around and grow jealous of.

You are Mizuhashi Parsee, and today you will have some fun on the surface. Your wallet isn’t quite as full as it was right after the art sale, so no frivolous spending, but there’s always sights to see and things to hear, particularly since you don’t visit the surface much at all.

With nothing particularly in mind, you pick a direction randomly and fly, keeping low to the ground so as to remain aware of anything interesting that might be going on. You pick up fairies playing amidst the trees, the occasional youkai or human traveling by foot, and wild animals, many of whom are not really seen underground.

Thinking to pick up some pictures for reference, you descend upon some of the unsuspecting creatures and snap shots of them with your handy-dandy smartphone. It’s apparently not one of the latest models according to the internet, but for you it does the job. You scare away many of them before you get a chance to take a picture, but some of the slower, or perhaps dumber, ones remain still for just long enough for you to obtain reference material.

You could just open up Google and get material that way, with the internet and all, but you’d rather get your own. After all, you are from the “boonies” as you claimed on stream, so you should be sharing things from this very “boonie”. Gensokyo’s flora and fauna aren’t much different from those of Outside World Japan, if Google is to be trusted, but you’d wager that there’s just enough divergency to be noticeable in art.

Before you know it, you’re flying over the Misty Lake, which isn’t quite as misty as it usually is due to the time of day. It’s almost noon, and you’re getting rather hungry. Today’s mental exertions in the Garden of the Sun have made you quite tired, and your stomach is growling.

There’s that Scarlet Devil’s mansion nearby. You’ve heard that they spontaneously take in guests, but that’s a high bar to clear.

The lake itself has some fish swimming near the surface, and you can probably grab a few of them if you’re willing to get wet, but then you can just dry off by a fire. You are knowledgeable enough to put your things by the shore if you’re going to dive.

Or...you can only eat the rice balls you brought along, but that’s boring.

[ ] Go up to the Mansion’s gates
[ ] Jump in the Lake
[ ] Do neither of the above
[x] Genuflect into the lake while calling for Tewi to cook eggs and explain what's in the mystery box
The hallowed traditions all converge.
No meme options here
[x] Do none of the above
- [x] Eat jelly donuts rice balls
[x] Jump into the lake while genuflecting
Feats of aerial acrobatics!
[X] Lake
Need fishy.
[x] Jump in the lake

Parsee might need some additional exercise to ease her mind from the stress, beside if a certain mermaid is there we can harvest her jealousy of people having legs

For us anon, fan service and beach episode
[X] Go up to the Mansion’s gates
Get some reference materials to paint more cute girls
[x] Do none of the above
-[x] Eat rice balls
--[x] Dangle your legs into the lake and let the sunshine in

Enjoy your unofficial vacation day, Parsee.
[x] Fishy fishy lake lake

Lake lake fishy fishy.
[×] Do none of the above
- [×] Eat rice balls
-- [×] Dangle your legs into the lake

Parsee deserves a calm and tranquil break after all the excitement. Sometimes boring is best.

Also, we can take photos of the fairies and fauna that mingles around the lake. Might be good for reference.
[×] Do none of the above
- [×] Eat rice balls
-- [×] Dangle your legs into the lake

There is a potential mermaid here. People eat that shit up in the art world.
[x] Jump in the Lake

Call for Tewi
[×] Do none of the above
- [×] Eat rice balls
-- [×] Dangle your legs into the lake

Sounds nice
[x] Go up to the Mansion’s gates

I need some Remi in my life.
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[X] Jump in the Lake

The water is freezing, the deep lake largely unaffected by the sun. But you feel like engaging in some physical activity, and you really want some fish right now.

You set up a fire pit by the shore first, coaxing a spark into a flame and then into a roaring bonfire. Taking off most of your clothes and setting down your traveling pack near the fire, you stretch for a few minutes, making sure to get all the tension out lest your muscles cramp up in the lake. Then, you fly back up near the lake’s surface, flying so close to the surface that you can feel the mist touching your bare skin.

You spot some fish, and immediately dive. Unfortunately, the shock of the icy cold water immediately numbs your upper body despite your mental preparation, and you wind up having no fish in hand and jittering hands. The fish all get away.

Muttering a curse of jealousy for the fish and their capability to swim and tolerate these cold temperatures, you take a deep breath and begin skimming along the surface, letting your body acclimate to the freezing waters through its cold vapor. Your skin burns from the cold, and you can feel your heart work faster to avoid frostbite.

Spotting another group of fish, you rush in, sending as much of your magic into flight speed as you can.

[x] Genuflect

You break the surface with your knee first, shocking the fish. Then, with clawed fingers, you grasp at them with enough force to choke out a human. The fish are slippery, but since you’re using enough strength to leave indents in their flesh, they do not escape...well, it’s more that you kind of killed them instantly by breaking their spines.

[x] Call for Tewi

Who’s Tewi? The faint compulsion to call for a small white rabbit enters your brain as you raise your head out of the cold water, gasping. You kind of feel like doing it, but your stomach isn’t really in the mood for rabbit meat, you think to yourself as you emerge from the lake, dripping wet.

[x] Cook eggs

You didn’t bring any eggs, and you’re not really interested in plundering the nearby bird nests. Shame, they would’ve gone well with the fish.

You plop down next to the fire and hurriedly gut the fish by ripping it open and tearing out the unsavory bits. Then you close the fish back up tightly (again, sort of by smushing the flesh together with your strength), cover them in the mud dug up from the lake side, and toss them into the fire.

After cleaning your hands off in the lake, you get back by the fire and lie down on the grass. You didn’t bring a towel so you have to wait for the heat to dry you off completely. It’s definitely not an unpleasant feeling. In fact, it sort of feels like a bathhouse. Except unlike the onsen underground, here you can see the clear blue sky, the tops of many trees, and the chirping of many more birds than the paltry few that dwell underground, even after the Artificial Sun allowed some limited forestation to take place.

It’s nice and tranquil, and the air smells sweeter than it does underground. Perhaps sometime in the future you can transfer to a bridge above ground? That is a possibility, but you’re sure that nobody really wants a hashihime to occupy a bridge. It’s just common sense. The oni can tolerate you, but you are sure humans won’t.

But who knows? Maybe the surface would get tiresome and you’d long for your previous abode underground.

“Hey you! Whatcha doing here?”

You turn your head. Someone’s head and shoulders are protruding from the lake. Another swimmer? No, those are fins instead of ears on her head. And is that a...giant fish tail flapping in the water behind her.

“A mermaid?” You say, slowly and with confusion, “When did the Lake get a mermaid?”

“I’ve been living here for a long time! You must not come to the Lake much.” The mermaid frowns. Just what are her clothes made of? You wonder. She’s wearing a frilly kimono in accordance with Gensokyean fashion, but it’s noticeably not soaked with water. Could it be one of those synthetic fabrics? Or is it just magical?

“Must be nice having such fine fabrics for your clothes.” You mutter darkly, before deciding to answer her question, “Actually, I haven’t been to the surface world much at all, I live underground, you see.”

“Living underground?” The mermaid says, inquisitive, “Is it like living underwater? Can you breathe underground?”

“No, I live in a huge cavern which was once Hell. Well, not in Old Hell necessarily, but I manage the bridge that leads there.” It feels weird telling a stranger about your occupation. Why is this mermaid so willing to talk anyway? Must be nice to feel so comfortable with strangers.

“A bridgekeeper? That’s interesting, even when I lived in the rivers I haven’t met more than one or two people whose living was from keeping a bridge.”

“It’s a very big bridge, enough that I have my house under it. It’s a full-time job to take care of it and look after the people who cross it.”

Well, look after may be too kind of a phrase to describe your routine harassment of people, particularly couples, crossing the bridge, but this mermaid doesn’t need to know that.

“That’s so interesting! A bridge that can fit a house underneath it! Is it noisy?”

“Not that many people cross the bridge, it’s mostly oni looking to trade stuff on the surface and spiders coming down to the city. It’s more that the bridge is very old and needs someone to look after it constantly lest it falls apart like a rusty cart.”

“Oh, speaking of falling apart!” The mermaid disappears underwater for a few moments, and then comes back up with a large, rusting metal box. “I found this at the lake bottom. I had no luck opening it, mind having a look at it?”

“Uh, sure?” You walk over to the mermaid and take a closer look at the box. It is very definitely rusty, and there are gaps in the metal. You can’t quite see what’s inside though, but…

“I have just the tool for the job!” You fish around in your pack for the claw hammer you always carry around, mostly so you can quickly nail in a few straw dolls wherever you want (you don’t usually leave the bridge much before these times, but you keep these tools in your pack just in case).

With the mermaid holding the box down, you slowly pry away at the side with the most amount of gaps with the claw, tearing apart the rusty joints as your combined strength overcomes the remnant stability of the box. Finally, after a couple of minutes, the side of the box is pried wide open, and inside...

[X] What’s in the mystery box?

[ ] Something helpful?
[ ] Something hurtful?
[ ] Something old?
[ ] Something new?
[x] Something hurtful?

Oh my God, Parsee! A bomb!
[x] Something old?
old men
running the world
[x] Something old?

A 500 year old bottle of whiskey
Welcome to Gensokyo
File 163445126789.jpg - (63.74KB, 540x720, jq8kqfzhile51.jpg) [iqdb]
16898
[x] Something old?

A canvas... for my lady's painting.
[X] Something old?

If it's old, it might be a forgotten object
[x] Something old?

Old means cool ancient magic junk. Double bonus if it's cursed as shit.
[x] Something old?

It's Yukari
[X] Something harmful
Enough alcohol to give 2 youkai liver failure
[x] Something old?

Oh hey, it's my uncle's Playboy collection from the 70's
[×] Something old?

The paintbrush set of none other than Bob Ross himself.
File 163462095593.jpg - (20.77KB, 600x600, knife.jpg) [iqdb]
16905
[X] Something old?

What’s in the box, what’s in the box, what’s in the box?
It’s a set of knives! Antique, but somehow still pristine and unrusted by the water. It is a very odd collection: There is a wavy dagger, with an ornamented handle containing shapes that hurt your brain just by looking at it. A kitchen knife, with a handle that feels like it’s been used for hundreds of years. A razor, still smelling of hair products, somehow. And finally, a painting knife, which is technically not a real knife as it isn’t sharp, but still, it is part of the set. None of them look like they were made after the Meiji era.

You look at it, awestruck at the randomness of the selection. The mermaid just looks disappointed.

“Aww, I was hoping for gems or at least, shiny rocks.” She pouts and says.

“Really? These seem to be rust proof, surely someone like you will find them useful!”

The mermaid considers the knives for a few moments, then brightens up. “If that is the case, then I’ll take this one!” She picks out the kitchen knife. “This will be useful for cutting lakeweed and cleaning fish.”

“Aren’t you a...”

The mermaid looks at you a bit weirdly, “Fishes eat fish, is that strange?”

Your impression of mermaids is rather warped by western stories, “No, no, just ignore me on that.” You say as you gather up the other knives, “You want one of my baked fish? Since you provided the box and all.”

“Without you, I wouldn’t have gotten it open, and besides, I prefer my fish raw.” The mermaid says.

Wrapping up the knives and putting them securely into your pack, you watch as the mud around the fish crack and dry as the fire roasts, before pulling them out with a stick. Slowly, you peel the mud off, and the scales come off along with them.

“You sure you don’t want these?” You say, as your green eyes glow, “My my, these are some tasty looking fish.”

“No thanks, raw only.”

You frown. This mermaid really is one of those “need not, want not” types, eh? Nothing much to bait or evoke her emotions with. “By the way, I don’t believe we’ve properly introduced ourselves to each other.”

“Oh right! My name’s Wakasagihime, I just, err, live here, in the Lake. Sometimes I keep outsiders from falling in.”
“Eh? Outsiders? Anyway, my name is Mizuhashi Parsee, bridgekeeper of the underworld.” You don’t particularly like this person, but maybe you’ll find something to make her jealous of in the future, if you ever do decide to come by the lake.

“Nice to meet you, Parsee!” She skips right over your last name and directly calls you by your first. “Err, um, I don’t quite know what to say after this...”

“Hmm? Not a lot of visitors?” Your eyes flare up again. “I get many people crossing the bridge, every day.” You lie.

“No, I just don’t talk to many people. I talked to you because I saw you jump in the lake and thought you were one of those suicidal outsiders that keep coming in and ending up as corpses. But then I saw you making the fire and got curious.”

“Really, nobody else fishes in the lake like that?”

“People usually fish with fishing poles, so...”

You wonder why wild youkai aren’t fishing here like you were, and then you recall how freezing cold the water was. “That makes sense, right.”

The fish is delicious, or perhaps you are too hungry to taste the difference. It could use some salt though, but really, it’s mud-baked fish, what are you expecting? If you want fine dining you’d head to a restaurant.

Speaking of heading to places, where are you going after you’re done eating?

[ ] Head back underground
[ ] Head somewhere else on the surface
[ ] Somewhere in particular? _______
[x] Sonic Underground.

I actually don't know the song but do want more Satori or Yuuka time. They're coolioso.
[x] Head somewhere else on the surface
- [x] You need somewhere to stay while Yuuka is clearing the infestation. Maybe the Myouren temple is a good place to stay?
This is no longer an /underground/ story.
[X] Somewhere in particular?
- [X] Where else do lonely youkai go? Hakurei Shrine. Bother the shrine maiden.
[x] Head somewhere else on the surface
- [x] Somewhere in Particular? Kourindou. Check back on Rinnosuke.

Won't take long for the gap master to notice an involvement of the door master.
Maybe we'll find out something intriguing about the knives by letting him take a look at them.
[X] Somewhere in particular?
- [X] Where else do lonely youkai go? Hakurei Shrine. Bother the shrine maiden.

Poke the Reimu.
[x] Head somewhere else on the surface
- [x] Somewhere in Particular? Kourindou. Check back on Rinnosuke.
Gotta check in with my boy
[x] Head somewhere else on the surface
- [x] Somewhere in Particular? Kourindou. Check back on Rinnosuke.

'ske
[X] Head somewhere else on the surface
Roll them bones
[x] Head somewhere else on the surface
- [x] Somewhere in Particular? Kourindou. Check back on Rinnosuke

I'm sure he'll be jealous of our cool new knives
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