[x] “...Still, as a courier you should just run past her, you’re not getting paid to fight.” - [x] "But if push comes to shove, a spell card fight is how things are done in Gensokyo" explain the rules.
“I can crawl along these caves faster than you can run, you know!” Yamame calls out, “I didn’t do it this time, but I can also set up my webs to slow you down if I want to! There’s also diseases…actually, you don’t need to know about that.”
“Well, fight it is then.” You shrug, “Ian, want me to explain the spell card rules for you?”
“Please do so.” He’s already shuffled off the pack and is settling into a battle stance. He’s not manifesting his sword though, strange.
“Rule number one of a spell card fight, you must give names and meanings to your attack sequences that you will use as a sort of…video game boss pattern? That’s the best comparison I can make. For us, these attack sequences are usually patterns of magical bullets, but I expect outsiders to have their own techniques. However…technically you don’t have to do this if you’re okay with being on the defensive the whole fight.”
“I have some names for my attacks, and they are far more unsightly than patterns of magical bullets, but they can deal with airborne opponents.”
With a deep inhale, he furrows his brow as his arms melt away into a stream of black ink, before swiftly reforming into something significantly more threatening. Something metallic, and colored ivory and gold. You clap as the massive claws emerge from the ink, bound to his normal body by chains.
“Now that is a dueling worthy apparatus for a human!” You praise, “You’ll fit right in here in Gensokyo.”
“What.” Again, that weird typewriter effect is echoing like a bass line in his voice, “You don’t find this…hideous?”
“Why would I? There’s a monk up on the surface who controls a ‘nyuudou’, which is a massive cloud giant’s head and arms, and probably fights the same way as you with giant hands. And Yamame, mind showing him your lower body?”
With a grin, the earth spider leaps upward to the cave ceiling. Her bulb-like dress distends and distorts as her human legs disappear. Then, all at once, six hairy brown arthropod limbs sprout out from under the skirt. She extends her body forward as her rear becomes the abdomen of a wagon-sized spider.
“See, your transformation is tame compared to what the average youkai can do.” You say to reassure Yan. This boy’s got some serious self-image issues, though at this point you are sure that’s the least of his problems if he thought coming to a stranger’s home in the equivalent of the Feywild (thanks Baldur’s Gate for giving you that analogy) was a good idea. “Just don’t go waving those sharp claws around, that’s looking for trouble.”
“Ah…” He’s staring at Yamame. “That seems similar to…no, this is the real deal, not an imitation.” Raising the claws up in front of him, Yan gets on the balls of his feet. “Let us get started then, now that we’re both ready.”
“In that case, I shall begin the duel!” Yamame shouts as she flies onto the cave ceiling and clings there, “Spider - ‘Cave Spider’s Nest’!”
It’s a card you’re quite familiar with, having fought with Yamame on and off during your tenure down here in Former Hell. For a human who’s never seen it, or any danmaku before…
“HOLY SHIT!” Yan exclaims, utterly losing all composure for a moment as he sees the elaborate web-shaped pattern of bullets fly all around, many of them aimed towards him. His speed is enough to just barely manage dodging the first wave, but as per usual Yamame’s second wall of bullets overlaps with the first one, and he is promptly nailed by at least a dozen of them.
Knocked back, he draws the claws back towards himself, covering his whole body and blocking the bullets.
"Using the difficult version of your spell card, eh, Yamame?" You call out.
"Just making sure the kid is up to snuff. If he can take this much danmaku to the chin then he can take physical harassment from fairies with no issue!” Yamame replies between sending waves of bullets at the boy.
You watch as Yan stumbles back into the cave wall, his claws clasped around like well, claws clasping around a small object, like an egg or something.
“Ian! Rule Two! Danmaku attacks all come in elaborate patterns! You don’t have to dodge all of them as a human who cannot fly, so it should be possible. There!” You point to the gaps in Yamame’s bullet pattern, which you’ve seen over a hundred iterations of. “You can stand there to avoid the worst of it.”
“As you order!” He leaps over to the safe zone, where bullet density is low enough that he can afford to free one of his claws. Curled up into a fist, it is hurled towards Yamame in a straight punch.
She dodges it with ease. “Too slow!”
“Miss Parsee, any other…”
“Make sure you keep an eye on your pack while you’re fighting!” Horosha interjects with a warning, while Yamame eases up her attack so the boy can hear, “The enemy may have an accomplice, or will try to overwhelm you with attacks before running off with it.”
“That…wouldn’t be an issue.”
You raise your brows as he sends one of his claws over, and a strange glow bursts from it as it gently punches the pack. Faint, almost ethereal chains then sprout from the top of the pack, anchoring it to the ground, and out of the tangle they came from sprouts a gigantic padlock with an oversized keyhole, tying the chains together like the bow on a present that the humans and recently the oni have been doing for this thing called “Christmas”.
You didn’t participate in Christmas, or most festivals, come to think of it. Maybe you should…because lots of potential jealousy victims go there! Right?
“So, you do know magic!” You say to Yan.
“Not really magic, this is Jeong Industry’s patented lock tech, alongside my own…peculiarities. It’s nowhere near what Miss Yamame can do.”
“If this is technology,” You let out a scoff, “Then call me an engineer. No outsider who visited Gensokyo had anything like this.”
“Have you had any Korean visitors?”
You look at Horosha, who shakes his head. “Last time I checked the Village’s records, there weren’t any. A few Westerners, a few Chinese. No Koreans. You’re the first one here…Ian. Though, as for Koreans in general…” Horosha perks up as he remembers something, “…I think the komainu of the Hakurei Shrine might be related, given how komainus are named in Japan?”
“Probably not if we’re talking about technology.” He looks up, and experimentally throws a few more punches at Yamame, who skitters around the ceiling at a pace too fast and too erratic for his relatively slow moving attacks to land. “I retract what I said about ranged capabilities. If opponents are like her, then this is not going to work.”
“Nah, I’m just pretty fast like this.” The earth spider says as she swings past an incoming claw with unnecessary flourish. “You’ll do fine against a ground-bound feral or a dumb fairy. I guess if the tengu harass you it can be a problem, but those crows and wolves generally stay civil.”
“Such speed…” You hear him muttering the next part underneath his breath, “I’m jealous.”
The boy’s picking up after you! That’s nice.
The fight goes on for about another minute, before Horosha raises a hand for Yamame to stop firing. “Good, we see that you can defend yourself adequately. However, such situations are not ideal, and are to be avoided.”
“Of course not. I would prefer not to fight…”
“I mean fighting defensively. It is better to crush the ne'er-do-wells that harass you with an unfair spell card, as the attacker. That leaves less potential risk for your package.”
“Spell cards can be any attack with meaning, according to the rules, as long as you write it down somewhere as a contract.” You say, showing off the spell cards that you use regularly, written down on cursing dolls. “Since you don’t know magic, you’re not going to be firing off bullet swarms any time soon. A sucker punch with a fist should solve the problem, unless you have something flashier.”
You see Yan frown as his arms fade back into normal ones…though, now that you’ve seen the claws, it is clear that the human arms are just a thin facade, with the chains underneath clearly visible if you know what you’re looking at. He then draws his sword out of the dimensional pocket. “I have one…I’d rather not use it. But if that is what is necessary...”
He raises his sword up high, “Miss Yamame, prepare yourself!”
You look over just in time to see a massive sword blade, resembling a giant version of his slab of steel, sprout from the ground and hurl itself into the ceiling. Upon impact, black ink splashes out with an acidic sizzling sound, before rapidly dissipating.
For Yamame though, the slow speed of the sword and ink do not manage to get her, although she did have to jump off and fly as the ink spread across the ceiling.
“Ineffective, but visually impressive.” Horosha says with a hand on his chin. “A name might give it some more meaning. Tell me, boy, what is the name of this attack?”
“...Distorted Blade.” He says, quietly.
“Distorted Blade?” You think about it for a moment, “Too simple, how about ‘Absolute Execution: Blade of Fate’? Eh…maybe that’s a little too much.”
Yan stares at you as you cringe at your own suggestion. Video games have begun rotting your brain, it seems.
“Parsee, don’t you name your spell cards after folk tales?” Yamame asks, still upside-down on her thread even though she’s almost to the cave floor.
“I don’t know any folk tales involving a giant sword though.” You think back to both tales youkai told about themselves here in Gensokyo, tales that were part of the general Japanese zeitgeist, and tales from your homeland, “...Nope, nothing that wouldn’t be pretentious.”
“Giant Killer: Blade of Jack.” Horosha suggests, with an uncharacteristically enthusiastic tone. Come to think of it, this weirdo spider always was happy to talk about foreign things. “This British folktale contained no mention of a giant sword, but it did contain a hero who went around slaying giants, so such a weapon would be well within his purview.”
“No offense, Parsee, but your suggestion was too presumptuous for someone of my status. ‘Giant Killer’ is a good title, Mister Horosha.” He holds up his sword again, “Giant Killer - Blade of Jack!”
This time, the massive conjured blade slams into the ceiling at greater speed, and Yamame looks noticeably surprised, and excited, at the change. And then, instead of merely splashing out some ink, the liquid coming out of the sword slowly turn a verdant green, a color in start contrast to the earthy darkness of the tunnel. The ink coagulate and twist, and before your eyes they transform into beanstalks, shooting towards Yamame.
Yamame enters an evasive pattern, skittering erratically to have the beanstalks hit air. However, the beanstalks sprout pods, and the contents of the pods explode outwards, covering the air with soramame. Yamame isn’t an oni, but getting nailed with a fava bean to the head still hurts enough that she clutches at it reflexively.
Bean danmaku. Not a common sight outside of Setsubun on the surface. But it makes so much sense that you wonder why more people don’t do it.
“A hit!” You cheer. Yan has frozen in shock, letting his sword drop into the ground while pointing at the botanical manifestation that came out of the Distorted Blade.
“I…I can do that?” The typewriter sound effect seems to have lessened, more background noise than bass line. “Was that magic? Just from renaming my attack?”
“This is Gensokyo. Names have power, especially when they tap into folklore.” Horosha brushes aside his bangs, “Britain may be a long ways from Japan, but the tale of Jack the Giant Slayer…Did it get conflated with the tale of Jack and the Beanstalk? It has been a century or two…This tale is still notable in Japan through contact with westerners. This ain’t proper magic though, it’s just you tapping into what’s already there.”
“Oh, but still…” Yan purses his lips, continuing his stare as the beanstalks dissipate along with the sword. “Jack and the Beanstalk was a tale of courage, guile and…hope, wasn’t it?”
“I could debate you academically on that.” The traveling earth spider says, “But yes, that would be the popular opinion.”
“Ah, then it definitely can’t just be part of my…condition…then. I cannot slay a giant.”
His tone on the last sentence is odd, with rasping like he’s crying, but there’s no tears on his face.
“So, Horosha.” You ask as Yamame flies down, rubbing the sore spot on her face. “Good enough?”
“You should have more than one spell card to have a dignified duel against a proper opponent. But for a human new to Gensokyo, your new ‘Giant Slayer’ and that ‘condition’ of yours should suffice to keep nuisances off your back. Most of the time, they are fairies, so a single good hit from those claws of yours should defeat them.”
“Do they die?” He said as he dismissed his sword. “I don’t want to kill…”
“Yes, but fairies just dissipate and return to life within days.” Yamame says instead of the other earth spider, “That was a really cool spell card, human! You’ll do well in Gensokyo.”
“Thank you?” He hesitantly replies. “Was it really that impressive?”
He’s looking over in your direction.
[ ] That was indeed a really cool spell card, Ian. [ ] That was indeed a really cool spell card, Yan. [ ] Impressive for a novice, but could use some improvements. [ ] I’m jealous of it, whatever it qualifies as.
You take a glance at your phone to see what people’s talking about on your Discord server’s social channel. You are genuinely curious now as to what your new fans are interested in. To better evoke their jealousy, of course.
GunBunny: It sounds like you have it rough over there.
Knife Bnuuy: You don’t know the least of it. After the whole mess with [PARTNER CORPORATION REDACTED], we’re in an energy crisis and the Caw-caws are breathing down our necks ‘cause we worked with them. One wrong move and it’s time to be converted into gene-stock.
GunBunny: Yeesh, and I thought my masters back then threatening to turn us into rabbit stew was bad.
Knife Bnuuy: If I got purged, the gene-stock will probably qualify as Rabbit stew lol.
GunBunny: We should form a union. “Asian Federation of Abused Rabbits”. Too bad it’ll just get crushed immediately.
Knife Bnuuy: [CryingWojak.png]
Sandwich Enthusiast: OH SHIT, WIFE’S GONE INTO LABOR, GTG
Knife Bnuuy: Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, asshole
GunBunny: So hostile
Knife Bnuuy: You’d be hostile too seeing a happy couple if the person you loved since childhood doesn’t even remember you
GunBunny: That sounds like a story
Knife Bnuuy: A very personal one, thank you very much.
GunBunny: But you shared that much
Knife Bnuuy: I’m a little drunk, okay? Shit, it was mostly my fault for not confessing, but I was supposed to act professionally during the one meeting I got with her. And just a month later, the Incident happened, the facility she worked in was demolished, and everyone inside disappeared to god knows where.
GunBunny: That’s rough buddy.
Knife Bnuuy: And I’m going to be honest, it’s one-sided. I’m just one of many street rats she saved, while she is…kind of a big deal. I worked really hard my whole life, selling myself to [PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT REDACTED], just trying to be a little bit of the hero she is.
I’m not a hero. Nothing close.
GunBunny: There there. It’s okay, I’m sort of a coward myself too.
Knife Bnuuy: I won’t go as far as to call myself that
But what I’ve done.
GunBunny: What did you do?
Knife Bnuuy: Many, many questionable things. Cowardice isn’t one of them, but she would be disgusted by whose blood me and my team have gotten our hands stained with.
Can I show my face to her again?
GunBunny: Sounds like you need some help getting her to like you.
Knife Bnuuy: Are you offering help?
GunBunny: Just some casual advice. First you need a cup of dried and crushed rose petals, then a sprig of wolfsbane. Mix those together.
Knife Bnuuy: What?
GunBunny: Let me DM you the rest of the medicine recipe. It’s a perfume that will make you absolutely irresistible and it should be easy enough to make. (edited)
Oh, somebody’s getting groomed, either for sex or for crime. Lovely. None of your business right now though. “I Am Fire” can deal with it (for free).
“Parsee? You’re making that sound again.” Yamame says with worry in her voice.
“It came out a really nice spell card. My spell cards never come out with such dramatic flair.” You clutch your head and stare at Yan in a way that makes him severely uncomfortable. “I’m…jealous.”
Now that you have time to think about it…it’s so cool. So aesthetic. Such a dramatic display of inner turmoil and strength that makes all of your spell cards appear superficial and petty. It is a true masterpiece, straight from a distorted soul.
“Don’t mind her. She’s just like that sometimes.” Yamame reassures the human, “You'll get used to it if you keep living with her.” “Dammit Yamame.” You sulk a bit, but make no further comment as the three of you make your way out of the underground. Several other earth spiders came out of their dens at the sides of the cave systems to gawk at the human, but Horosha doesn’t appear to have set more “challenges”.
“I did not set any further artificial barriers.” He states as the group crosses the threshold into the blinding sunlight. “The road ahead would prove challenge enough.”
“If you say so.” You take a glance at the “trainee”, who is…smiling? Barely smiling, but smiling. His slight frame, juxtaposed against the mass of packages he is carrying, is a remarkable sight in the morning sunlight, amidst the natural landscape of Gensokyo.
You sketch as you walk, being mindful to depict the contrast between the traveling couriers and the unkept wilds around this area. Neither human nor tengu and kappa tread much around the entrance to the Fantasic Blowhole, with the latter preferring the elevator shaft leading to the Nuclear Furnace when needing to travel underground. With most everyone leaving the Underground for whatever reason having some form of flight, the “road” joining the Blowhole to Gensokyo’s network of barely maintained paths was largely tread out by the few earth spiders ferrying seeds or construction material.
Walking is nice. Moving around with your feet to the dirt is significantly easier and more relaxing than flying. Your shoes rarely get much mileage, much like those of many Gensokyeans who think that going out in socks only is perfectly fine as long as they’re flying from indoor space to indoor space, without ever touching the ground.
“See? To the north, that distant peak in the clouds. That’s Youkai Mountain. Twas a different name in the past, but its current occupants, the tengu, bestowed this awfully unimaginative moniker upon the range.”
“Youkai Mountain? That does sound…obviously descriptive.” Yan shields his eyes from the sun as he looks towards where Horosha was pointing. “But perhaps we don’t have enough context judge their decision. Tengu are wise beings, or so I’ve heard.”
“You’ve heard wrong, my dear Yan.” You say, before switching into a tone mocking that of the long-nosed bastards, “Us tengu are mostly scared of anybody not us coming up the mountain, and carry around big swords to intimidate humans! Except for crow tengu, who zip around like mosquitoes sucking out every last drop of personal information from innocent bystanders!”
“I take it you don’t like them very much, Miss Parsee.”
“I don’t like anything, but tengu particularly.”
“Aww, don’t be like that, Mizuhashi.” Yamame followed you three out of the underground…doesn’t she have construction contracts to do? “At the very least, you enjoy feeling jealous!”
“I don’t enjoy feeling jealous.” You instinctively retaliate with a false statement.
“Yes you do.”
“No I don’t. You popular, cheerful spide.”
Yamame grins. You groan.
Seeking to divert your attention to something else, you check your phone. Oh, somebody pinged you on Discord.
Sandwich Enthusiast: @everyone THE BABY HAS ARRIVED
Did this guy just ping everybody in the server? Discord lets you do that? You remind yourself to remove mass pinging privileges from people who are not you.
Rift Maiden (KR): Couldn’t be there, but I’ll come visit as soon as I can!
Dark Quietude: Thanks, grandma
Rift Maiden (JP): Congratulations!
Dark Quietude:: A duplicate grandma?
Rift Maiden (KR): :trollface:
Rift Maiden (JP): :trollface:
I Am Fire: Mind if I ask you what the kid’s name is?
Sandwich Enthusiast: Medoro
Dark Quietude: It felt like we had to choose that name, to prevent something bad from happening.
Wolfgang Mozart: He’s so cute!
Wolfgang Mozart: If anything happens to Medoro I will kill everyone involved and then myself.
No more messages from the trio after that. Discord is probably low priority during a birth, and it’s weird that they’re sharing it on here at all. Shouldn’t they be sharing it on social media using their real names? With their friends and family?
You hate happy families. Shouldn’t they just die?
“They’re probably security contractors. ‘Fixers’ in our slang.” Yan says when you ask him. “Posting about things as vulnerable as an infant on Twitter or Kakao with their real names is inviting an enemy to kidnap it or worse. As you can see, they probably all know each other’s online handles, and if they are going to share pictures it’s going to be over private messages.”
“It’s that bad?” You remark, “The online news in Korea surely don’t report on this ‘Fixer business’ from what I saw.”
“Fixer business and organized crime are two things the media won’t touch. These two groups are not averse to raiding news offices. Fixer business is usually the worse to report on of the two, since you won’t know if you’ve accidentally condemned the very same Fixers you hired to guard your own property and life.” He shrugs, as if this is normally expected. “I would argue that other countries like America do not report on their ‘routine and expected’ crime and violence either.”
You think about the shrine maiden, the only person you can think of in Gensokyo who is close to a “security contractor”. Considering how the shrine has been targeted during incidents, you cannot imagine Hakurei Reimu having a child even if nobody has come after her with murderous intent yet. You’ve heard that one of the Four Devas hangs around the shrine regularly, and a drunken oni is probably among the worst things in the world to mix with an infant.
“Having a child in that scenario just sounds like a bad idea.”
“I agree with you on that.” Yan checks your phone, “But judging by their screen names, they probably think they will do just fine.”
You audibly “hmph”, “What, you know them?”
“No…but given the records of some of the more famous contractors, I can hazard a guess that they are among the upper echelons.”
“Hmm.” You look around and see the Village…moving away from you. “Horosha, aren’t we going to the Village?”
“No. We’re heading to Eientei.”
“YOU’RE HAVING THE ROOKIE DELIVER TO EIENTEI?”
“Dealing with hostile terrain is part and parcel of being a good courier.” Horosha says as the Bamboo Forest of the Lost gets closer.
The tree-sized bamboo stalks loom over you as you walk into their shade. You've never been comfortable with the place when you absolutely had to come here for Eientei’s services. Despite being largely devoid of hostile ferals, the massive bamboo stalks always seemed to conceal gawking eyes. Eyes which you felt penetrating deep within you, laying your less savory aspects bare. Of which there are many, you presume based on how uncomfortable you get around this place.
Horosha is deliberately not leading the way. As such, after about half an hour of wandering around on the soft loam, crunching the fallen leaves, you, Yan and Yamame are hopelessly lost. The other earth spider is chewing on tobacco while not saying anything, only keeping a watchful eye on the trainee.
“Miss Parsee, I am sorry for asking, but do you know the way?”
“I’ve come here once before…quite a while ago.” Your life up to this point has been largely a blur, with most details lost in the endless haze of jealousy that made up your memories for the past centuries. “How did I get to Eientei again? Yamame?”
“Miss Yagokoro always met me outside of the forest.” Yamame says with her hands behind her back, “Something about not wanting me near the patients. Understandable given my nature, I suppose.”
“Wondering how to get to Eientei? Needing an appointment with Miss Yagokoro for your illness?” A voice rings out.
A fuzzy white and pink blur leaps out from behind a bamboo trunk, does a somersault in mid-air, and lands with one foot forward and head leaning down, letting her floppy white ears droop.
Tewi then moves into a cutesy curtsy, “Tewi Inaba, at your service. I spy three hated youkai from the underground, traveling alongside a human reeking of cement and smoke. What an odd group to be traipsing around the Bamboo Forest!”
It is the boy who speaks up first, “Miss…Inaba, if we are treading upon your land, we sincerely apologize for the trespass.”
“It is my land, but you’re not trespassing or anything. I’m just thinking that you look a little lost and need some directions.”
“Oh, in that case, thank you…”
Fragmented memories, cast in sharp relief, spring to the front of your mind. You recall bits and pieces of pain, tripping and falling, and a lot of cursing.
You do remember that you got to Eientei by the end though, somehow. You weren’t sure if the rabbit fulfilled her end of the deal.
[ ] Despite her reputation, you should deal with this rabbit.
[ ] DO NOT deal with this rabbit. She will screw you over, and it will be painful. Let’s find our own way.
[ ] Uh…howl like a wolf, that will intimidate this rabbit! And accomplish something else I don’t quite recall.
[X] Uh…howl like a wolf, that will intimidate this rabbit! And accomplish something else I don’t quite recall.
“If you say so, Miss Parsee.” He hesitates for a moment, takes a deep breath, and then howls in a soft, gentle voice. It is pitiful, perhaps he’s used to never raising his voice? You wonder if it will even do anything.
Turning back around, you see that it did have an immediate effect. Tewi has disappeared without making a single sound. You give an inquisitive look at Yamame and Horosha, but they just shrug.
It was a full five minutes before the bamboo leaves above you rustle. You look up to see a figure in a full dress—and a very fluffy tail—descend upon you.
“I see someone remembered how to summon me.” She says. “Imaizumi Kagerou, at your service. For a few coins, I shall lead you out of the forest, or lead you to a destination within. You are here for the latter?“
“Of course, Lady Kagerou.” The boy says with a bow, making you rather confused. “We would like to know the way to Eientei, as we are couriers.”
“Ah yes, the sole destination anyone is interested for the Bamboo Forest.” Kagerou states with some disappointment in her voice. “Very well then, that will be 500 yen.”
“Eh? That’s pretty…” He looks at you, expecting some information. You give it to him.
“Gensokyo’s currency supply isn’t as large as the rest of Japan.” You explain, “Prices here are lower, that’s pretty much it. Things are also priced differently since we don’t have much heavy industry.”
“Ah.” He rifles through his pockets and puils out a wallet. Several crisp new yen bills are removed and placed into Kagerou’s clawed hands. Something about the motion feels intimidating, as if passing the pieces of paper was a motion he practiced and refined for his entire life.
“Thank you very much.” Kagerou turns around, swishing her tail, and you notice Yan’s head turn along with its motion. Impulsively, he reaches a hand out, then catches himself and straightens up.
So he does have a weakness. You think to yourself, smirking. How are you going to use this against him? Wait, is that even possible? You have no tail. Perhaps you can…no…he would actually be more socially accepted amongst the youkai than you, a hashihime. Surely…
You dwell in these new, confusing thoughts as the group make their way through the tree-sized bamboo, following no trodden path, for the rotting bamboo leaves constantly form fresh loam for the ground. While you are thinking though, Yamame notices what you did and watches Yan’s staring with glee. Pretty genuine glee too, unlike yours.
“Hey, Yan.” She whispers as she walks next to him. “You want to touch her tail, don’t you?”
The young man’s face slightly blushes, a change subtle enough that you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t paying attention. “No! That would be rude, and indecent to boot. Wouldn’t it be like touching a person’s rear?”
“Are you sure that’s what she thinks? You’re an Outsider, a newcomer to Gensokyo. If she refuses, she would merely think it a strange inquiry by a foreigner. If she agrees.” Yamame smiles, “Just go ahead!”
“...If you say so.” Yan walks ahead, to Kagerou’s pace. “Um…uh…Miss Kagerou?”
“Hmm? Need some water, human?”
“No…” He purses his lips, gathering the foolhardiness needed. “Can I touch your tail? You know, just to see if it feels like those of wolves in Korea!” He quickly adds on as Kagerou raises a brow, “Merely a flight of curiosity.”
Listening to this, Kagerou shrugs, fishes out a thick-toothed comb from her belt pouch, and holds it in front of a surprised Yan, “Now that you brought it up, my tail is feeling rather itchy. While you ‘satisfy your curiosity’, please groom it well and remove any small branches and leaves in it.”
He gulps as he takes the comb, his arms slightly trembling. You, Yamame, and Horosha spectate as Yan, walks behind Kagerou as she lifts her tail up to combing height. Which isn’t much, considering how short the Korean is.
You expect him to screw up and embarrass himself somehow, but the moment he lays hands on the werewolf’s tail, his trembling stops. You watch, with equal degrees fascination and disappointment, as he gently runs his fingers through Kagerou’s fur, slowly, picking out the debris as instructed, but clearly lingering for longer than he really should be. Noticeably though, he’s careful to not touch the core, sensitive portion. Wait, is that…no! He has a grooming kit on him! Not a pet grooming kit, but after he drips some strange liquid on Kagerou's combo, it plows through Kagerou’s thick wolf fur like a nuclear-powered icebreaker.
Seems like Kagerou was expecting the human to fumble and irritate her. Was she thinking the same thing you were? Perhaps all youkai have an instinct to mess with humans? Whatever, it is irrelevant. Kagerou is nodding, looking rather comfortable and pleased by the grooming while not making any sounds that are…weird. Are tails sensitive for the youkai with them? One of the many things you wonder for a moment and then forget.
Come to think of it, how did you forget that howling summons this werewolf? Oh that’s right, you never go outside. You probably filed away this memory into the trash disposal like many others. But why shouldn’t you? There is no reason for a hashihime to care about these things.
Why do you even bother existing?
“You are good at this!” Kagerou says, genuine appreciation in her voice, “Were you an animal caretaker?”
“Ha ha, no.” The man gives a polite laugh as he tugs on his own long ponytail. “My hair isn’t the most agreeable with grooming products, so getting it to this state took much work…and money. Not that had much to spend with my lifestyle back in Korea.”
A few minutes pass while you observe Yan’s grooming techniques. So much care and precision. Nothing like the crude way you do it, on the days where you bother to wash your hair at all. It’s not like anyone is around to see your hair, after all? But now you are going out more, and people are seeing your hair…
You idly run a hand through your blond locks and rub your fingers. Greasy. You didn’t bother soaping it last time you visited the onsen, as one is expected to do. Are Yamame and Horosha just being polite when they don’t mention it? Yan definitely noticed and didn’t mention it, not with how smooth and silky his white-and-black striped hair looks.
For the first time in a length of time you don't remember the beginning of, you feel slightly ashamed.
Yan takes several minutes to get Kagerou’s tail fur completely cleaned out and straightened, though you do notice that he was being slower than he probably should be. But really, can you fault the kid? Well, 25 year-old man, but to everyone else here he both looks like and is comparatively a child. Young enough for youkai to be a bad influence on him, anyhow.
“Whoa.” Kagerou remarks as she gets up and stretches. “It feels lighter, even. Nice job, human.”
“Thanks.” Yan looks uncharacteristically happy. You feel jealous of it, as usual.
As such, you cannot help but let out a snide comment, “Can’t be that hard to keep hair clean with the tech you’ve got in Korea.”
“It probably is much easier than what you have to deal with out here.” He carefully wipes his fingers of loose fur with a handkerchief. “You want to try my tools out? You seem to have trouble keeping your hair well.”
Was that an insult? Was the boy snapping back at you? You look over at the earth spiders with their utilitarian and well-kept haircuts, giggling at you.
[ ] I can take care of my own hair, thank you very much. [ ] (Very Begrudgingly) Maybe you can take a look
Late update because I'm working on too much shit at once right now, and laziness.
[X] (Very Begrudgingly) Maybe you can take a look. Perhaps once we’re at Eientei.
You’ve only been to Eientei once before. The hardy constitution of youkai usually means that biological maladies are a thing you sneer at humans about, but the same mechanisms that allow vices such as sake and opium to affect your body also provide an avenue for particularly creative microorganisms to wreak havoc.
You were not proud when you sat in that office, with the prying eyes of the alien doctor dissecting the hurried habitual lies you gave about your raspy voice and phlegm. A serious throat infection, it was, and she said you had a chance of dying from it.
Going out due to a throat infection seemed grimly karmic for a hashihime that drew her sustenance with a poisoned tongue. Now that you’re reflecting on it though, you think people will probably just call you stupid and your gravestone would read: “Here lies Parsee, died from being a stubborn shut-in with a moldy manjuu. What a loser.” Though given what Rinnosuke told you, Hakurei Reimu of all people almost went out in the same way so you have company in that department.
Eientei stands out from the rest of the bamboo forest mostly by not being bamboo. Its external decor is largely akin to the rest of Gensokyo’s Meiji-era rural Japanese aesthetic (albeit, as the years went on, slowly upgraded with all sorts of inventions and conveniences developed independently from the Outside for the Human Village and youkai settlements alike). But this facade conceals a technologically advanced pharmaceutical facility and a surgical center not available for public knowledge…at least that’s what the rumors say.
For what it’s worth, the packs Yan and Horosha are carrying contain both medicinal mushrooms as well as petroleum products from the recently sprung well in the Underground. You’ve never studied medicine, nor had much need to, so this isn’t much conclusion other than confirmation of their usage.
“Come in, come in.” A voice calls from behind the gates of the house, shortly before it swings open to reveal a tired-looking rabbit with straight ears, herding a swarm of smaller rabbits with floppy ones. “Kitchen team, carry these to Master’s storehouse. Garden team, get these plants to the greenhouse…” Her ruby red eyes turn over to your group, “Hello…”
She abruptly freezes as she sees you, “YOU…Umm, sorry. Please come into the parlor and have some tea. Coming here from the Underground must have been a long journey.”
“Miss…” You begin to say, then think better of it. Are you that infamous? You don’t think you’re that recognizable. Your companions took notice, and Yamame suppresses a snicker as you pass into Eientei’s front yard.
“Raised hell here before?” Yamame says.
“No…” You mumble. Despite how much you’d wanted to, something about the gaze of the Master here, that Eirin Yagakoro, gives you enough heebie-jeebies that you dropped any idea of using your abilities on the patients here.
So why did that rabbit call you out like that? But also seem to drop the subject? Eh, you’re obviously a hashihime. She’s bound to be cautious.
The parlor is spacious, decorated in a pre-Heian style that is so antiquated you think it’s effectively Chinese, if the brief reads you gave an old copy of Architecture Through the Ages by the Hieda family is correct. You only skimmed it because you had a brief moment of inspiration when designing your dwelling below the bridge, then gave up approximately half an hour in and decided upon a firepit with a pallet for a bed.
If Yamame and some of her friends weren’t around to tease and, as much as you begrudgingly say it, actively helped you in building your shack, you probably would’ve still been living like a true youkai with wanderlust—a homeless person, in other words, under the bridge.
“Parseeeeeeee.” Said earth spider says as she slouches below the low table. “Can you pass me one of the peaches?”
“Sure.” You grab a peach and prepare to toss it over, before thinking a bit better of it, and lean over to hand it off instead. Kagerou got dragged off by a pack of rabbits for some unknown reason so it’s back to the four of you that left the underground. Horosha is nursing his tea and not talking, his attention immersed by a tengu newspaper.
You turn to look at your new voluntary victim…well…roommate, cautiously sipping his tea while eyeing his surroundings. He sort of froze up when seeing the head rabbit…Reisen, right, that was her name. He was muttering something about, “R…R…R?” Before snapping back out and reverting to his usual composure.
“You wanted to take a look at my hair?”
“I’ve been taking a look. Now what I need is a place to work.” He sets down his tea, “But surely I can do better than the courtyard’s well…”
“Of course, Mr. Vismok, you are more than welcome to use our washing facilities.” A voice abruptly comes from the side. The two of you snap your heads to see Eirin Yagakoro walking by the room. She’s not even looking up from her notebook. You glare at her, knowing (or at least, assuming) she was listening in the whole while, but she doesn’t look at you.
How the hell did she know his name?
Eientei has a special…salon that you noticed when you came here the first time. You’re not sure you can call it that really, as it appears to be used for experimental hair treatment products. Yagakoro has several vials lined up on the shelves with big red warning labels, and judging by the amount of cut fur and hair in the disposal bins they appeared to have some success.
“You don’t visit the hairdressers much, do you?” Yan says as you get into one of the barbershop chairs
“I have a mirror and shears at home.” You grumble. “Look at my hair, does it look like something I need to fork over a fistful of yen to a barber for?”
“With how uneven it is? You really should be. Look.” He twirls one of your greasy locks near your ears, “If you’re going to have your ears exposed, which you will, given how long yours are, you’re going to want to keep it cropped neatly around it. Otherwise it’s going to get tangled up and get dirty, defeating the purpose of a low maintenance haircut.”
“And what’s the point of you calling it a low maintenance haircut if I need to maintain it anyway?”
Yan stares at you. You stare at him back.
“Parsee, how often do you cut your hair normally?”
“When it gets to my feet I get the shears and cut everything to chin length.”
You can’t help but smile as a look of horror spreads across the boy’s face. “Oh no. Oh no no no. Oh that won’t do at all.” He mutters as he picks up the spray bottle, “For starters…you’re cutting the lifespan of your follicles short! Even if you live forever, it’s not healthy!”
“Oh don’t be so overdramatic.” You brush off the comment as he brushes through your greasy locks, “I’m not a human, hair problems don’t exisssss…”
You trail off as Yan combs deep and draws out a clump of dead hair, nestled deep in your locks as if you were a shedding dog, before holding the coated comb in front of your face.
Maybe not thoroughly scrubbing during your infrequent baths was a bad idea.
“Fine, some hair problems might exist.” You reluctantly admit.
Spray bottle, scissors, even some strange solvent he kept on his person. The boy had it all, and generously applied each and every one of these gifts to your hair. Your hair condition was bad enough that he had to shampoo and rinse it twice before resuming the haircut, but little by little…
“Gah, Miss Parsee, you hair is as strong as nylon.” He says with a grimace while switching out his diminutive scissors for a pair of gardening shears Eirin had lying around the room. “Is this part of being a youkai?”
“Yes actually. Youkai hair is stronger than human hair, which is why you see so many of us leave them longer than humans usually do, even for those of us that get into fights all the time. Oni hair is even stronger, comparable to metal wire. Wait.” You tilt back to look at him as the cutting pauses. “Aren’t you similar to a youkai even if not exactly one? How’s your hair like?”
“Much stronger than before, I can’t cut it but that’s fine.” He smiles, “It doesn’t grow any more.”
You’re not sure why, but that statement seems to get sadder the more you think about it.
He didn’t cut much hair, just trimmed all of the excess locks around the back and around your ears to better sculpt out the shaggy bob cut your hair naturally seems to form into. But he sure did thoroughly, and thoroughly, cleanse your head of all the gunk and dead matter within.
At the end of the haircut session and the final shampoo and rinse, you shake your dripping head around and it feels significantly lighter. Did you really have that much stuff in your head? Or did you really have that much stuff in your head metaphorically that a nice haircut dispelled?
You can’t help but laugh (into a cough) at the sheer idiocy required to consider the second option.
“Normally women’s hair requires more involved procedures, but with how tough yours is and with these products, a cut like yours needs none of it. Of course, many of the women I come across do not bother.”
“I believe most of Gensokyo’s population are like that too.” You remark. “Hair care isn’t exactly something most youkai keep on their minds.”
“Are you sure? Or are you speaking out of your own experience?”
He smiles. You don’t. Getting smugged on by a human of all things is not an acceptable experience.
“Thank you.” You begrudgingly mutter.
Yan heads back to the parlor, but as you are about to follow him something makes you stop and turn.
You can smell it: The scent of someone doing what they’re not supposed to do…in aid of something jealous too no less. You sniff again. It’s coming from the closed door to your right, but it’s not strong enough to be directly related to committing a crime out of jealousy…more like an accomplice?
Suppressing a giggle of delight, you creep over to the door and press one of your long ears against it.
“...and then obtain rice vinegar, and marinade the rose petals within for seventy-two hours exactly, no more, no less. Then, make sure to sketch out the circle in your own blood…no, a theoretical clone’s blood wouldn’t work…why are you even asking this? A joke, okay. I know the Outside World doesn’t have this technology yet. Yes it has to match the signature.”
It’s the voice of that Reisen woman, but you can’t hear who she’s talking to.
“No, you need the untanned hide of a fox for this…no, a synthetic one won’t do, it has to be naturally born…where are you even getting these clones from? That’s a secret? Alright then. I guess you told me enough about your love life to…”
You involuntarily drool a little as you press up against the door firmly. Love life? Your ideal food! What sort of couple is this? Are they merely a stalker? In that case even better! Just think about the various handles and cranks in their head you can turn with just words alone, no powers needed even. For starters…
…Your train of thought violently rams into a cliffside as the door, apparently in need of maintenance for a while, gives in with you pressing on it with unintentionally too much weight. With a squeak then a thud, it pops free of its frame and crashes into the room with you on top of it.
“CUT THE CALL!” You hear Reisen shout. Looking up, you see a device vaguely resembling a desktop computer, though one obviously made with whatever Eientei’s got going on with the alchemical widgets inside of it. There is definitely a nice big screen however, and on it you see the person on the other end (someone with stark white hair as the dimly lit video feed shows, you note) fumbles about their equipment for a few seconds before the call ends.
Reisen likewise takes a few moments to realize who just intruded on the meeting. “You?!”
“Me?” You groan as you pick yourself off the ground. “Fix your damn doors! I tripped and bumped into it and it just came off!”
“Oh!” Your complaint seems to trigger a reflexive response in the rabbit, and she quickly defers to an apologetic tone. “I’m sorry! Been meaning to fix that all year but Master’s been keeping me busy with other things!”
“It’s fine. It’s fine.” You grumble in a tone that indicates it’s not fine. “Now, can you help me…”
Your gaze falls over to the screen again. You now realize that Reisen wasn’t using a proprietary calling shikigami that you’ve seen people use without computers. It is a computer, running a human operating system, and she’s using Discord. And on the left side, in the list of servers, there is exactly one server listed.
YOUR Discord server.
Reisen follows your gaze, and moves to close the program, before realizing what exactly you’re seeing. “Uh…Miss Mizuhashi…”
[ ] Throw the nearest blunt object at Reisen [ ] Pretend you didn’t notice and disappear from the scene [ ] Play it cool and talk to her normally (as if you were normal) about it. [ ] Play it COOL and act confidently to her about it.
>>17230 >Knife Bnuuy: I’m a little drunk, okay? Shit, it was mostly my fault for not confessing, but I was supposed to act professionally during the one meeting I got with her. And just a month later, the Incident happened, the facility she worked in was demolished, and everyone inside disappeared to god knows where.
>GunBunny: That’s rough buddy.
>Knife Bnuuy: And I’m going to be honest, it’s one-sided. I’m just one of many street rats she saved, while she is…kind of a big deal. I worked really hard my whole life, selling myself to [PLACE OF EMPLOYMENT REDACTED], just trying to be a little bit of the hero she is.
>GunBunny: Sounds like you need some help getting her to like you.
>Knife Bnuuy: Are you offering help?
>GunBunny: Just some casual advice. First you need a cup of dried and crushed rose petals, then a sprig of wolfsbane. Mix those together.
>Knife Bnuuy: What?
>GunBunny: Let me DM you the rest of the medicine recipe. It’s a perfume that will make you absolutely irresistible and it should be easy enough to make. (edited)
>“...and then obtain rice vinegar, and marinade the rose petals within for seventy-two hours exactly, no more, no less. Then, make sure to sketch out the circle in your own blood…no, a theoretical clone’s blood wouldn’t work…why are you even asking this? A joke, okay. I know the Outside World doesn’t have this technology yet. Yes it has to match the signature.”
>It’s the voice of that Reisen woman, but you can’t hear who she’s talking to.
>“No, you need the untanned hide of a fox for this…no, a synthetic one won’t do, it has to be naturally born…where are you even getting these clones from? That’s a secret? Alright then. I guess you told me enough about your love life to…”
This is Reisen trying to get Myo to /u/ Gebura.
On account of posting wojacks, promoting streaming, using d*scord unironically, using Bob Ross as a plot device AND getting most of the Library cast to populate a server (with some of them doing it for free), this story gets a rare ULTRA-HERESY rating.
I bet Ayin could still somehow find a way to save it.
[X] Play it cool and talk to her normally (as if you were normal) about it.
“So, you’ve been watching my art streams?” You say, a big, forced smile on your face.
“...Yes.” “I take it you’ve been enjoying them then.”
“Yes?” Reisen’s acting as if you were a taut rubber band, ready to snap at any moment. Which to be fair, you would’ve been before in this situation. Now though, you’re not quite sure how you’re supposed to feel.
“Do you think…my paintings are good? High quality? Well-thought out concepts?” Your art education was entirely from boredom-induced practice under a bridge with stolen reference material and supplies, and while the oni did provide some useful feedback, you are curious as to what someone else outside of the Underground thinks.
“Concepts? Your landscapes are really great! A bit unrealistic in composition, but great! I don’t understand art that much, so don’t take my word for it though!” Reisen is jabbering out a response on reflex, you think.
“So, does anyone else in Gensokyo have access to internet?”
“Not that I know of. I did want to ask you.” Reisen gestures to the computer. “Master developed a modem that can penetrate the Hakurei Barrier, in order to access and disseminate medical texts anonymously. But Master is Master. How did you gain access?”
“The Yakumo gave me one.” You say, not wanting to elaborate too much on the complications or difficulties.
“Why would a Yakumo…nevermind.” Reisen shakes her head, “Not worth it to try and discern any motive from this individual. It’s like when she funded the night sparrow’s food cart business.”
She did what? Well, come to think of it, why did she give you the laptop? But if she funded the night sparrow’s food cart, of all people, then that means she perhaps expected the same out of you as well. A disturbing implication rears its head, “So what you’re saying is that she was expecting me to try and farm jealousy…I mean, start a streaming career, by giving me this computer?”
“More likely than not, yes. You’re good at it. Nobody would’ve guessed that you can take on the role of a public entertainer but…hmm…I suppose even if you didn’t have a talent for painting you still would’ve gone over well with humans. After all, you are a youkai that is emotionally dependent on other beings for subsistence.”
“I feel like that’s an insult.” You mumble.
Reisen opens her mouth as if to say something, closes it, then opens it again, “You’re not acting normally, Miss Mizuhashi.”
“I’m not? What can you possibly be talking about? You don’t even know me, Miss Udongein!”
“A hashihime shouldn’t be getting this impassioned about anything but for seeking jealousy. And by now the books say you should be trying to rile me up. I mean, you haven’t once said anything about respect for my job or salary since you came here.”
“It…didn’t come to mind. Why do I need it? I can just trigger a week’s jealousy from a single stream. It’s even getting viewers from outside of Japan. Huh.”
You have been nursing a thought like this, feeding your own jealousy, but you never thought you would be taking steps on it. Imagine: a wealthy and successful hashihime, with attention from a 24-hour media cycle and the adoration of millions…and the jealousy of even more. You always wondered, is that even a youkai at that point if she needs no powers? Or is she just a human who enjoys making others jealous? Are those vacuous popular streamers way ahead of you in views on Twitch just the Outside World’s hashihime? It was largely a philosophical question, something you have no care for, but now it seems you have to answer it sooner than later, lest you crumble to bones and dust without warning.
And what of youkai who lose their youkaihood? You’ve heard of henge who turned human, but that was an upgrade on the reincarnation cycle. Perhaps the Yama would have an answer. The Yama…ugh. You’ve never met her before, but from you’ve heard she’s an annoying busybody and are not keen on a meeting.
And the strange things happening to you…could this be a result of you losing your youkaihood? Bob Ross shades don’t just decant out of thin air.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” You catch yourself staring off into nothing in particular again. “What’s your username, by the way?”
“Right.” You pretend to check the time on your phone. “Well, Miss Udonge—Reisen. I’ll catch you online. Our group’s gotta move, and you’ve got work to do right?”
“Right! Right.” Reisen answers while scratching her head. Seems like she genuinely forgot some work in the excitement of playing alchemy master to a gullible outsider. “I’ll get back to it then! Bye!”
You get out of the situation without having to reveal that you were eavesdropping. A success by any measures, you figure. Aside from that, you have a Gensokyean to bait…err…regale with your tales of internet fame to stoke jealousy in a more local area! It’s looking bright for Mizuhashi Parsee! Other than the existential questions, anyway.
Just gotta keep going. Keep maintaining your sigma female grindset and get your subscriber numbers up. That is your…purpose?
You shake your head. That’s not important, what’s important is to be successful, as you are no poverty goddess who is tied to her own misery. If you are successful, you have all the resources in the world to worry about if you’re true to yourself or whatever.
“Alright, I’m back!” You say as you swing open the door. Yamame looks at your joyous expression with some surprise.
“We’re heading to the village next.” Horosha checks his pocketwatch. “Platinum ores and gem shipment to several jewelers and smithies. We’re on good time, but dallying around isn’t recommended. If you lot are still tagging along.”
You look around the table. A wolf and a spider are quickly scarfing down their oranges and scooting out of the low table. Is Kagerou joining your little day trip party? Or something like that.
“I’m coming along. Gonna do some shopping?” She says before you can ask.
“Yeah…not my decision to make.” You see the others not give any contraindications, so you just shrug and accept things.
The others finish their snacks, and begin gathering their things. Looking at the boy you’re grooming…err…hosting, you think of something to say.
“Do you suppose you would like to stay here? You said you were just staying here temporarily, but the old spider pays well, and you can make enough money in gold here to live a comfortable life back in Korea, with the way the exchange rates are going.”
“Gensokyo is indeed a beautiful place to live, work and die in.” He thinks about it for a while, “I don’t know, it’s a good idea, but it isn’t home.”
“Where is home then, Seoul?”
“That’s a very good question…I don’t know. My prescr-My orders were that I can return home…find a home when I finish reciting all the digits of e, which iis infinite.”
“Better no home than a mandated home under a bridge, I would say.” Yan gives you an extremely dirty glare as you say that, but you respond with just a giggle. “It really is worse, trust me.”
“Easy for you to say since you’ve forsaken human bonds a long time ago.” He grumbles.
“Yes I have, and I’m very jealous of those that retain said bonds…” You say, though with not much conviction, “But those bonds only last at most until you die, and not for say, a thousand years unto eternity. I got to say, being .”
“You can always just commit suicide.” He says, before realizing it was probably something he wasn’t supposed to say.
“Trust me…I’ve tried in the past.” You reply, before realizing it was something you were probably not supposed to reveal. Unlike him, however, you do not stop, “So as an elder youkai it’s fairly difficult to kill yourself. Simply slitting the throat or hanging yourself won’t work, but the more extreme methods such as a thorough exorcism is too painful, and you’ll give up before you make any progress. Not to mention we…have weaker wills than humans on average.”
He stares at you. Then down at his feet and hands. “Do you think that applies to me, in my current state?”
“I wouldn’t try.”
“But in theory.” Oh, the boy is beginning to take on your own way of talking, “IF I were to try and kill myself, would I succeed if I really try?”
“Probably yes, if you ask a miko to purify you, or a monk…hmm…”
Come to think of it, which miko or monk would be best fit for whatever this kid is going through?
[ ] The Hakurei [ ] The Moriya [ ] The Myouren [ ] Those weird basement Taoists
Send him to the Taoists and a week or two down the line Seiga's getting a new undead servant souped up on that weird goo Ian has in him. Possibly. Iunno. [x] Those weird basement Taoists After having typed the above out, I'm interested in seeing the hungry corpse chill with the awkward Korean.
>Looking at the boy you’re grooming… Truly, a discord mod of our time.
"Your life is everything! You serve all purpose! You should treat yourself, NOW!"
"Your life, literally, is as valuable as a summer ant."
"What I need you to do is I need you to take a nearest rope that you got, wrap it around. If you got a garage or a fucking stairway, and hang youself. Period. Why are you alive? Do the world a favor and hang youself."
(I don't know who Yan is, haven't played Ruina yet, still on Lob Corp) Hmm, The Hakurei are essentially peacekeepers maintaining the balance so I don't see them helping him kill himself unless he goes out of his way to be lethal. However, if Mima happens to be there, he might have a interesting conversation.
The Moriya are progressive about things, and I think 2 out of 3 of them would try to help him live, Suwako though, being rather curse related could be an interesting conversation.
Myouren has a larger cast of characters, though, seeing the literal vengeful ghost might dash his hopes that death is the end.
The Taoist would be the exact opposite of helping him kill himself since they pursued immortality via binding their souls to an object, and he is more machine-like and has that type-writer theming, so he'd be seeing people actively becoming like he is but retaining (or at least trying to retain) their humanity...and then there is Kokoro, who is a collection of masks gaining humanity/emotions, essentially undergoing the reverse process to him.
Also there is Mononobe no Futo who looks similar to him, like they could be related if the pictures displayed are accurate.
So, storywise, I'd say the Taoist look the most interesting for Yan to interact with even if none help him kill himself.
Honestly, if he wants death, he should try talking to Shiki Eiki, I'm sure it would be a productive conversation for him.
“...As a matter of fact we are delivering a few packages to Senkai.” Horosha replies when you ask him. “I didn’t think you of all people would be interested in Taoism.”
“I’m not. I just happen to need to discuss a few things with them.”
Taoism is ultimately a dual pursuit of passive existence and spiritual ascension. To ascend to the realm of celestials while making no move against any established orders (By Chinese standards. The Japanese celestial order has some very strong opinions regarding upstart wannabe celestials). These hermits however took the easy way out, as instead of ascending they turned themselves into shikaisen, which are effectively liches whilst continuing their training. Now no longer human, they can really do whatever they want without fear of kishin.
Except for that creepy blue woman who sneaks into peoples’ houses at Christmas. You once had to chase her out with a broomstick and her rear felt distinctly alive when you smack it. Seiga Kaku is still a fleshy hermit, and she was paid a visit by kishin not too long ago. Shame they didn’t take her permanently.
“Uh, Miss Parsee, why are you telling me all this?”
You turn to see Yan staring at you weirdly. You’ve been thinking out loud.
“Figuring out if there’s an effective way to get you to die, if that’s what you want. In theory.” You check your phone for the current time. “Wait, that sounds wrong.”
“You really shouldn’t worry about my problems.”
“I get to worry about whatever I feel like, thank you very much.”
You are going to the Taoists. You have had no experience with Taoism, though you did idly dump a few hours on a video game about it, but you figured that if anyone were to offer an unconventional point of view on this, it would be a group of people striving to forsake their humanity as much as possible…legally.
“Technically, you’re not supposed to visit this place if you’re a youkai.” Horosha says as he stops at the primary entrance of Senkai, a designated, monitored crack in reality marked by cairns on the side of the road. “But even hermits need material goods, especially for their mortal followers.”
“You know I’ve been checking out a game called Amazing Cultivation Simulator which is about how Taoists work, so yes they need, uh, energy pills and ancient ingredients to make pills that help them concentrate their chi, right?”
“Well, in a broad sense yes.” The old earth spider rubs his hands, then knocks on the crack like he would a door. “As Senkai has no production of its own nor has made efforts for self-sufficiency, which is frankly unnecessary in Gensokyo, they need to buy normal things, such as paper and ink, just like everyone else.”
You don’t see any outer disciples being enslaved to work in the fields as you enter, as Senkai is a very small area that is largely paved over. There are (artificial) springs, waterfalls, and other carefully maintained scenery around the place with humans meditating or studying texts. You don’t see anyone riding swords or blowing things up, yet, anyway.
Maybe the lack of Japanese sources on Taoism isn’t much good for your understanding of the subject. Or the lack of conversations you had with any of its adherents here in Gensokyo. But why would you want to talk with any of them anyway?
A series of abrupt, crackling lightning strikes the ground near you, causing you to take a step back. A booming voice calls out, “Halt! What are you…”
“Miss Soga, it’s the weekly shipment.” Horosha replies, almost annoyed in tone.
A puffing sound, and you see a green-dressed ghost pop in above, with her arms crossed and her brows furrowed. “You and the other carrier, yes, but what’s with all the other youkai following you?”
Kagerou and Yamame give a dismissive wave, while you straighten up and lie, “We were carrying other loads that have now been delivered. We’re a part of this courier team just like Horosha and Ian here.”
“Uh,” Yan holds up a hand as if to protest, but stiffens and takes a step back as more lightning strikes the area, as the ghost flies down closer to the ground.
“You know we can’t just let youkai waltz in here casually right?” Soga maintains a volume just below a shout, “At least have the decency to wear a hat when you come in!”
Kagerou shrugs, strokes her brooch, and you watch as her wolf ears and tail seemingly retract into her body. “I am a human right now.” She says with a grin. “And you’ve let me in here before.”
“May you stub your toe, Kagerou Imaizumi.” Tojiko mutters, before raising her voice again, “And you! Kurodani! Even the accursed Buddhists banned you from their temple! How dare you wander in here!”
You expect Yamame to react similarly to Kagerou, but instead you see her lower her head, “Sorry.” Yamame sighs, “Meet you guys outside.”
“Yamame?” You call out, concerned.
“I’m not allowed near temples and other places where humans gather. They don’t want me spreading diseases. Eirin let me in because she’s confident she can trivially handle me if I do try to start things, but most people are not.”
“But you haven’t used your ability in ages!” You protest, “Come on! You…”
“The fact of the matter is that I used it at all before…also I said that the humans who come to temple look delicious.”
You stare at her. She smiles. You sigh. Why were you even thinking of defending her?
“For the record, I don’t find the humans who come to your temple appetizing. They are actively restraining their desires.” You say to Tojiko.
“You’re worse than the spider. She’s honest, and her ability only affects the body. You, on the other hand, can use your ability to directly attack the spiritual progress of everyone here!”
You stare at Tojiko’s accusatory finger, and think of something to reply other than your usual vague threats. “There is no possible situation where I would want to evoke jealousy in your acolytes here. They are well on their road to becoming ascended beings, and I cannot touch them even if I tried…madam.”
Horosha raises an eyebrow, and Tojiko gives you a similarly confused look, before saying, “If that is the case, and you insist on coming in, you must agree to wear a blessed restraint which nullifies your powers. I will warn you, it is extremely painful.”
“Uh I mean sure, but give me a sec.”
The two stare at you with even more confusion as you pull out your phone.
Mizuhashi297: Subjecting myself to some good old Taoist CBT, wish me luck.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Tojiko mutters to herself as she pulls out the myriad seals and talismans that make up the restraint, all attached together with a thin chain for convenience. Smiling, wordless, you put on the chain like a sash.
Pain. A hollow abyss where the jealousy that fuels your being is abruptly quenched. You gasp and recoil, unused to your existence being suppressed by this, and yet…
…It’s not that bad?
“I…I’m fine.” You stick out your hand as the two men move towards you out of concern. “My powers are just suppressed, which is just fine. Just fine.”
You can still feel a good amount of jealousy, or rather, the end-products of the jealousy process within you. You’re still fueled and able to move, oddly enough. This is much different than your experience when fighting the shrine maiden and getting sealing talismans stuck all over your body. That was pure pain, agony. While this doesn’t feel like anything more than a simple stab wound, one you are used to. But shouldn’t this have the same effect?
Tojiko seems satisfied with your reaction however, and waves you onward with a curt “You may pass now.”
Toyosatomimi no Miko was buried with a great deal of her wealth, which you guess was invested into this building. As such, the interior of the temple is elaborately decorated, well-constructed, though not by the rigorous Earth Spider standards you are used to in the Underground. Indeed, you see Horosha shake his head at some of the seams and flaws in the beams and walls.
“Look at this beam, it is a degree off and will lead to a collapse in 132 years. And these foundation stones have centimeter-long flaws in them that they covered with mortar! They could’ve certainly compromise and ask an appropriate youkai to help them shape the rock appropriately. Humans…”
You have no idea what he’s talking about, so you just nod along with Yan as you trudge over to the storage room.
“Does that…ghost? Out front? Does she own this temple?”
“No, that would be a certain Toyosatomimi no Miko. You’re Korean right? You probably know her better as Prince Shotoku.”
An expression of great confusion crosses the boy’s face as you can visibly see his brain short-circuit. “Know her better as Prince Shotoku?”
“The gods were fooling around, their shady shikaisen drugs, Buddhist conspiracies, magic, take your pick.” You shrug, “Honestly don’t think too hard about it.”
“And isn’t this a Taoist temple? Wasn’t Shotoku known for spreading Buddhism?”
“So he could take all the Taoist ascension materials for himself, is my guess. But it is better if ask her yourself.” Horosha slides open the door to the storage room. “Let’s find her after…oh…”
You stare at the person sitting cross-legged on the floor, a smoldering tobacco pipe in her hand and several empty beer pots by her detached earmuffs. She’s frozen like a deer in the middle of the night when someone comes by with a lantern, and so are you.
“Miss Toyosatomimi we have come with your supplies. You want them here, yes?” Horosha says calmly, acting as if nothing out of the ordinary is going on despite the flagrant violation of the Taoist precepts happening in front of him.
“Y..yes..please do so.” Miko hurriedly snuffs out her pipe. “Right, right, we have been expecting this delivery from the underground today…but who are the other two of you?”
“Bridge jannie.” You curtly reply.
“I am Courier-in-training, Madam Shotoku.”
“Shotoku?” Miko raises an eyebrow, “That’s a name people haven’t called me in a long time. And your Japanese sounds foreign, are you from another country?”
“Korea…” Miko looks off, as if remember something. “Nevermind. Please carry on, I’ll just be going…say, I’m reading some odd desires from you, young man.”
Yan stiffens and looks towards you. You stare back, deciding on something to say, or rather, frame the conversation.
[ ] “This boy needs some general purpose therapy.” [ ] “This boy needs to figure out how to die.” [ ] “This boy needs to figure out how to live.” [ ] “Yan say something.”
By leaving it as Taoist CBT, just initials, it can be mistaken by other characters as both Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Cock and Ball Torture vv  "This boy needs some Taoist CBT sessions" ^^ This is a compromise
“What’s CBT—” Yan begins to ask, before Miko abruptly crosses in front of him and…
Your head breaches the ceiling first, then the roof. You blink at the tiles flying in front of you before realizing that you are involuntarily shooting in an arc away from the temple. Looking down, you briefly see the humans of the temple give you a curious look before gravity starts pulling you down towards the temple gates.
You land on your head, skidding along the stone tiles to the entrance of the temple. You were too busy thinking about why you just said that in front of Toyosatomimi no Miko of all people, or how she can use her shikaisen powers to augment her ephemeral physical body enough to smack you that hard.
“Hey Parsee!” You look up to see Yamame leaning against the side of the gate. “You flew pretty high from that punch.”
“I didn’t see if she punched or kicked me.” You groan, rolling over and picking yourself off the ground. “How did that stuffy Taoist know what CBT meant?”
“Can’t she sense your desires? Even if she didn’t know what it meant she would’ve known it was something bad…assuming that’s something bad.”
You grimace. You had forgotten about that when you blurted out possibly one of the worst things you picked up from the human’s lnternet. “It’s something bad. But it’s not that bad. The reign of Shokotu definitely had something worse…”
Drip. Drip. Something warm and wet drips onto your cheeks. You smell iron.
You touch your cheek, and a red fingertip is the result. “I’m bleeding?”
“She didn’t also cut your head with her sword right?”
“No…” You touch the top of your head and wince. A good chunk of skin from your forehead is gone, but how? “Did I get it from scraping against the ground? Certainly nothing that minor would’ve breached the skin.”
Yamame looks you over. “Strange. I’m not sensing the beginning of any infection there at least, but how could someone like you get injured like that? You’re not as vulnerable as a human.”
“I’m not…human. Haven’t been for a long time.” You touch your wound again out of morbid curiosity. It still stings and now your eyesight is getting blinded by the dripping blood. “Do I have a towel somewhere? Any cloth? No…I just have my clothes. This suppressor wouldn’t have done this right?”
“That only suppresses outward forces, last time I had one on. Ugh, I didn’t leave house with any medical supplies either.” Yamame says. “I can spit some silk out, but weaving them into cloth without a loom is not going to be possible.”
You stare at each other. Of course youkai don’t carry around bandages when they go around. There’s no point. The world’s natural physical threats are of little concern to you. Everyone keeps some bandages around in case of actual threats, but simple gravity-induced scrapes shouldn’t even scratch you…and why isn’t this wound healing yet?
You look over at the temple. You are NOT going to ask for help from them. You then look down, see your scarf, and sigh.
“Blood comes out with enough washing.” You mutter to reassure yourself, wiping your face with it and then wrapping it around your head in a tight bind, before allowing Yamame to adjust it. As the scarf gets wet, you wince from the potential clothing damage, but at least you’re not blinded any more.
“I hope that’s not expensive.” The earth spider remarks as she finishes.
“I wove it myself, and I think this is actually your silk I bought to make it. Ah, being able to make your own clothing material must be so nice, paru~” Everything you wear is relatively new by youkai timescales. Your old scarves and clothes from all the way back then were long gone. Your body may be long-lived, but your possessions are not. After all, youkai are usually portrayed dressed in rags for a reason.
Soga no Tojiko floats by, giving you a glare.
“You gonna hit me too?” You ask.
She pretends to retch, and proceeds along, leaving you unsmited and a little disappointed.
After about an hour, the front gate to the temple opens, and the two emerge. Yan is missing his scarf, and he’s sniffling a bit, though he quickly (pretends?) to regain composure. Miko on the other hand has a thousand-yard stare .
You notice their clothing is disheveled, but not enough that you can make a reasonable assumption and thus a snarky comment. It could’ve been just Yan having a breakdown, or…
“Those claw marks are going to take a while to heal.” Miko says, looking at the red mark on her shoulder.
“Hey so you did—-” BONK Miko bops you on the head with one of her rods before you can finish the sentence. Lightly this time and not on the wounded part, but it still stings from the spiritual residue.
“So the scars this one has are buried deep, way deep, within sins that may never be forgiven. Sins that are not his.” Miko continues after ignoring your comment, while looking very disturbed. “To think the Dao in a country can be corrupted to such an extent…may Taishan have mercy.”
“Eh?” You have no idea what she’s saying.
“In laymen’s terms, he was in a bad Dao. That shouldn’t be possible as following the Dao, and thus your truest nature, IS good, but the Dao in his land was…wicked. Again, that should not be possible, but unless I have the time and opportunity to go to Seoul again and perform research on the matter, I can’t give a full answer or solution. That said.” She perks up again with the charismatic spark in her eyes. “I do have a stop-gap measure.”
Miko pulls out a white handkerchief and an ink brush set. Kneeling on the ground, she removes her earmuffs and begins humming a mantra you do not understand. She then inks the brush and holds it out, before closing her eyes.
Then, Miko begins swaying alongside the humming in a strange, erratic rhythm. To your surprise, the brush does not leave mere squiggles on the cloth, but rather recognizable Japanese characters. Slowly, but persistently, it comes out as a message.
“Live…on…as…you…deserve…until you finish reciting the digits of pi.” You read what she writes out. “What does that mean?”
Yan looks on with a completely blank expression. You have no idea what he’s thinking, even as he wordlessly picks up the cloth after Miko finishes writing. “Thank you, Weaver.” He says in a completely different tone than the meek, wavering one you were used to. This one is almost completely devoid of emotion and professionally smooth.
Miko gently nods, and puts away her brush set. “Do as the Dao of this land tells you. As for me…” she shakes her head, “I am going to go stare at a wall for a bit, and consider if I can’t ask one of the Sages to see if there’s any recent news about Korea. Oh and Miss Mizuhashi?”
“Do not say that again, please.” There’s some sort of resignation in her voice.
You wonder how much alcohol Miko has stashed just for things like this as she goes back inside her temple. Wait, Taoism doesn’t have an alcohol or tobacco prohibition, what were you even feeling smug at her about? Why were you…feeling anything but jealousy. You also had an urge to tell Miko that you have Internet access, but thought better—-it would be too much trouble for you since Miko is definitely going to tell other people.
“Are you bleeding?” He asked.
“No.” You pointlessly lie.
He sighs, then asks, “What’s CBT? And why did Lady Miko hit you for it?” Yan asks as he carefully folds the handkerchief and puts it into his breast pocket.
“...You lived in the Outside, how did you—” That’s when you remembered: Korea has a pornography ban according to some of the grumbling users on your Discord. “...you’re too young to know.”
“I’m 25 you know, and I am not online most of the time like you.”
Did this Outsider just call you terminally online? “For your information then, it’s coc—”
“Kids! Next stop!” Horosha said as he comes out of the temple. “We gotta get these packages to the Village as soon as possible!”
“It’s noon!” You shout back. “Gensokyo’s not big enough to hurry like that!”
“It is when we can fit in a second delivery cycle today! Even without that, I would like to get lunch before 2!”
You look at Yan for his take, but he doesn’t seem to react aside from a small nod of acknowledgement.
“Where’s Kagerou?” You ask, not seeing the wolf-woman anywhere.
“She’s still in a lesson-service, said something about wanting to cultivate her chi and that she’ll catch up with us later if she feels like it.”
You have a weird feeling that Rinnosuke’s been importing some questionable choices in literature lately.
The Taoists are pretty close to the Village, so there’s not really that many interesting things to point out to Yan along the way as the ricefields and cattle are pretty close to what they have in Korea. He does however choose to ask you something on the way:
“Hey Parsee, if you’re going to keep playing New Vegas, what ending do you think you’re going to go for? The fate o…your...Courier?” Yan asks in a really odd tone, with a strange amount of iron in his usually meek voice.
“Honestly haven’t thought of it, even though I read a guide. I guess…”
[ ] NCR, easiest route and I really don’t feel like thinking too much [ ] Caesar’s Legion, go full evil or go home, really [ ] Mr. House, because I think he’s cool and I like money [ ] No Gods No Masters, because I’m very basic [ ] I am going to nuke both sides in Lonesome Road first because I hate everyone