This story originally began on MotK. Due to the very low user count associated with that forum, the updates there were done in a one-on-one update format where no voting was done. The viewer/responder simply stated what Kisume would do and I would respond accordingly, adjusting the response if necessary.
Some of the early formatting and mannerisms are a bit inconsistent, that should resolve itself as I go on.
(For convenience, the story up to this point will be reposted here. Voting on Kisume's decisions will begin once I catch up to the most recent story state, probably at some point tomorrow. Two updates per post until the story gets caught up. See you on the other side.)
You are KISUME, tsurube-otoshi youkai. You are known for attacking unsuspecting humans by knocking them out cold with your trusty bucket.
There's not many other youkai that you recognize on a regular basis, given that you're not exactly the most talkative person in Gensokyo. Still, rumors do go around, and the latest one is that that same red-white shrine maiden has had to go out and deal with another incident recently. Serves her right.
> [X] Go find Kusodani-san. That tsuchogumi's got something going on, doesn't she? >> [X] Also, go find Hoshiguma-san, down in the Underground.
Might as well see what Kusodani-san's up to. Or down. Whatever. You never bothered to understand human phrasing anyway... Regardless, she's one of the two or three youkai you actually talk to on a regular basis. "Home", as it were, was not far from "The Blowhole", the original route to the underground. When you get there, it's... completely covered in webs. "KUSODANI-SAN!" you yell out down the hole. Crawling noises soon make way for YAMAME KUSODANI, a rather annoying earth spider youkai... for humans, anyway.
YAM: "Kisume? What's going on?" KIS: "Two things. There's another incident going around?" YAM: "Somethin' like that, 'eah. Komeiji was all up in arms, that kasha's ran off. Now what's the other thing?" KIS: "Need'ta get down to the underground." You prepare the bucket for vertical transport, though you can't go anywhere until Yamame clears out the blowhole itself. Webs suck.
Eventually Yamame clears it out, and the bucket starts to move before Yamame stops it abruptly and asks you... "Now don't-cha want me going along? Last time you went down there you got drunk and had a miserable time down there with all those alcohol-happy oni. It took Yuugi to get you out of there, remember?" You do vaguely remember that...
> [X] Accept Yamame's advice. > [X] On our way to Yuugi kindly ask her, because we are hazy on that, to refresh our memory about our "last time we went down there". > [X] After that, exchange what we know about the "Surface's Incident".
Advice accepted. The bucket could just barely fit two youkai, and as Yamame boarded the bucket, you started to pull the nearby rope, causing the bucket to begin descending.
You ask the question about what had happened last time you ended up down in the Ancient City. "What happened that time? My memory's a bit hazy..."
Yamame shakes her head, explaining what had happened to you.
"It was a while ago. You ended up in the Ancient City one way or another, got lost, then you got roped into a drinkin' contest with another oni down there. Yuugi eventually fished you out after the booze started givin' you troubles. When she found ya, you were out cold on the ground, outside one of them oni bars. I had'ta go and find your bucket."
You could barely manage a mumbled response to that. That must have been embarrassing. You try to not think about it too much as the bucket continues to lower.
Eventually the bucket reaches the ground level of Former Hell.
As Yamame exits the bucket, you begin detaching said bucket from the assembly that had been used to get here.
Yamame asks some questions in the meantime. "So whatcha know about that surface incident that I don't?"
"Something, hopefully. We could exchange what we know."
"While I was looking for unsuspecting humans, I saw a couple humans, couple youkai - some I recognized, some I didn't - they looked important."
You rattled off the ones you had seen before. "Red-white, blue-green, black-white, Suika as well. There were some others that I didn't recognize at all."
The earth-spider youkai summarizes her knowledge of the incident, making a conclusion based on what you've found out.
"Damn. If it's more than just the shrine maidens and the spark magician trying to resolve it, it must be pretty serious... The rest of what I know is that it's involving current hell in addition to the surface. Yuugi said it was something about beast spirits... You thinkin' the same thing I am? Kasha's probably headed that way too, if that last part's true..."
Yamame proceeds to head towards the bridge that connects the caves with the Ancient City. You quickly follow behind her.
At the bridge is... nobody. How strange... Parsee Mizuhashi would usually be camped out up here, looking for an excuse to be jealous... but she isn't there. Yamame looks a bit confused at this, but regardless, the two of you cross the lengthy bridge, eventually reaching the other side.
The city is pretty quiet right now. Not many folks out and about. Looking around, Yuugi doesn't seem to be immediately apparent, but it shouldn't be too hard to find her... hopefully.
The Komeiji mansion is visible in the distance. It's farther ahead, still quite the walk from here.
There are paths going forward, as well as to the left and right.
"Which way?" Yamame asks.
> Before making a decision, tell Yamame that you would make a brief overhead lookout first. > Keeping Yamame in your line of sight, and without being too conspicuous, float above and look ahead at each of the paths. Keep an eye out for anything unusual... > ...and take a glance back at the bridge as well.
"Wait here a moment, I'm going to float up and see if there's anything from above," you explained, Yamame barely having enough time to acknowledge you before you started to ascend.
While a flying bucket would usually be fairly conspicuous, the general dark and dim nature of the Underground mostly counteracted this.
Looking to the left, this part of the Ancient City was especially quiet. Perhaps it had something to do with the incident...
The only exception was a burning building a bit further away. It seemed to have a group of oni - or at least figures that *looked* like oni from a distance - gathered around it watching.
Ahead on the forward path was the city center. With specially decorated lanterns, regular festivals, bars, shops, stalls, and so on, it was very much the busiest part of the city. Again, the distant "shadow" of the Chireiden/Earth Spirit Palace loomed beyond.
On the right were buildings overlooking what could be described as "Hell's River". While not an actual river, the canyon and its absurdly strong winds were a draw for the stronger oni.
Looking back at the way Yamame and you entered from, it's still a barren bridge. There's no sign of Parsee.
Thick fog prevents you from seeing the other end of the bridge.
The bridge itself crosses a vast gorge that no other known method could successfully cross, being seemingly cursed in this manner.
Afterward, you descend again, returning to Yamame.
"Which'll it be?" the earth-spider youkai asks, waiting for your decision.
> Answer Yamame by picking the path on the right. The odd burning building is a bit suspicious... could it be related to Yuugi, or the Incident?
The back and forth conversation between you and Yamame proceeded as follows. "...Off to the left I saw a burning building, and a group of... I assume they're oni, but they were gathered around the burning building, just standing still."
"Might be connected to the incident, though."
"It could be... but oni aren't exactly *easy* opponents, you know? If Yuugi's elsewhere, let's not get ourselves into a fight we can't win."
"...hhhmmmmmm fair 'nough. Right path it is."
Heading along the right-side path, the winds that travel in the "Hell's River" canyon intermittently echo back.
Between the echoes, the noises of oblivious oni enjoying the canyon, and the generally ambient sounds of the city, the sounds of a call for help became audible.
Soon, its speaker made a turn, revealing the source of the voice... it's Yuugi Hoshiguma!
At the sight of you and Yamame, she begins briskly heading towards you.
"Kusodani-san? Kisume!? What brings you two down here again? If it's about the incident..." Yuugi seems more surprised at your appearance than Yamame's.
(Pick somethin' to say.)
> Tell Yuugi that you had descended down to visit, ending up here as observers to this situation, alongside Yamame, who was moreso here to prevent what happened to you last time. That, and Yamame was someone you knew and trusted. > With the incident going on, perhaps it was time to repay the favor to Yuugi for getting you out of that mess all that time ago.
"Observers? While it's nice to see the two of you again, it's quite the mess down here. Satori is up in arms about Orin, who's disappeared again."
Yamame asks about the fire circle you had mentioned, to which Yuugi begins, "The fire circle... that..."
Yuugi proceeded to explain that she tried to get the oni to back up, but they didn't respond at all, as if they were in a trance. She tried to pull them away, but they either wouldn't budge or another oni would take their place.
Yuugi had also instructed a few oni to try and put out the fire, but the water would simply evaporate as soon as they got close to the burning building.
"Huh, how strange," you spoke.
"You could say that again. There's also been a couple disappearances. I'm not sure if it's connected to the incident or not, though. Mostly it's just been local residents, but Parsee's gone missing. I have zero ideas as to where she's gone."
You nodded in response, recalling the lack of the bridge-princess who normally lurked at the entrance.
> When it wasn't too much of a bother, ask Yuugi how related this is to the Incident on the surface.
"What else could it be? Listen, between the missing folks, the fire circle, and the incident as a whole... I'd like some help, as much as it pains me to ask. If you want to be of some assistance, here's some ideas."
> At this point Yuugi gave you (and Yamame) a few options. > * Option one: Search for Parsee Mizuhashi and the missing Ancient City residents in particular. >You'd have to collect any information on their whereabouts yourself (with Yamame's help). > * Option two: Visit Satori and Koishi Komeiji at Chireiden, and seeing if they could use assistance, given their currently-missing kasha. > * Option three: Look further into the burning building surrounded by the odd "trance-like" oni. >Yuugi warned that, given the ongoing situation, she wouldn't be able to immediately help you or Yamame if either of you got in a fight in the process - whether with spellcards/danmaku or otherwise.
With this, the thread is now caught up with the old MotK thread. Voting is open.
> [X] Let's search for Parsee and those missing residents. >> [X] While searching, keep an eye out for anything that might be connected to the other two problems. They might be connected in other ways than to the current Surface incident.
> [X] Ask Yuugi if she has any further information about where these missing residents might be. Descriptions, possible locations, anything.
"...Not much. All I've heard was that they were oni and they lived here in the Ancient City. The city recordkeepers might have a better idea."
Yuugi proceeds to hand you a map (see image), detailing the surrounding areas of the first Underground layer.
She then quickly turns and briskly moves away, heading off to help other residents.
Soon after, Yamame asks you one last question.
"So, what'cha think? Should we try 'nd visit the recordkeepers and get as many details as possible? Or should we head off immediately? Time 'sn't on our side, after all..."
[X] Yes, let's visit the city record keepers. The more information we have about the missing residents, the better. [X] No, let's get going as soon as possible. The longer we wait, the worse off they might end up...!
> [X] Yes, let's visit the city record keepers. The more information we have about the missing residents, the better.
"We should probably get an idea of who's missing, right?"
The city records office was located on the northern edge of the city, close to the path that led to Chireiden. You and Yamame began to head over there with some haste.
When the two of you reached the office, there was a lone single-horned oni sitting at the front desk. "Welcome to the Ancient City records office, how ca-"
"Yes, we're looking for some residents that have gone missing." Yamame interrupted the desk worker.
"Those... I'll get that for you." The worker handed Yamame a small stack of papers, held together by string, detailing the missing local residents, as well as Parsee.
The papers (attached to post) detailed each of the missing persons.
First was Yuko Hiramatsu, an orange-haired oni who owned a bar in the city. She had last been seen leaving the Akemi hot springs, located along the path between Chireiden and the Honomura, the so-called "Village of Flames".
Second was Kumiko Yukimura, a blue-horned oni writer wearing all-black clothes. She had last been seen in Saigo Shudan, the Village of Last Resort.
Third was Takara Nagasawa, a rather eccentric oni. Born with lime-green eyes, her hair had turned a Satori-esque shade of purple early in life. Some gave her the nickname "Komeiji's Oni" due to these, though she had no connection to either of the mind-readers. Unlike the others that've gone missing, Takara's whereabouts were completely unknown, though due to the ongoing Incident, it's highly unlikely she could have escaped to the surface herself without being seen by anyone.
Lastly, of course, was Parsee Mizuhashi. There's a subcavern at the other end of the bridge. Maybe she's there?
Leaving the records office, Yamame asked you, "Where should we start?"
[X] Search for Yuko first - head to the hot springs [X] Search for Kumiko first - head to Saigo Shudan [X] Search for Parsee first - head back to the bridge [X] Search for Takara first - name a location (see map at >>17362)
[X] Search for Kumiko first - head to Saigo Shudan.
Geographically, the last places Kumiko and Parsee were seen at are probably the closest if we assume we're about in the middle of the city. Parsee would be backtracking, so Kumiko's last location seems like a good first stop to me.
>>17370 We're actually closer to Yuko's last known location; as the records office was stated to be close to the path to Chireiden. The hot springs are on the path north from there, apparently they're unmarked. Not that I particularly mind going to Saigo Shudan first, we can just follow the bend north from there to get to the hotsprings from the back. Just felt like pointing it out in case it matters to somebody. Since we have two dissappearances in that general area, maybe that path inbetween I mentioned might be a place of interest. That same path also houses the "Silent Temple"; being in the middle of two crime scenes is pretty suspicious, so we should probably drop by there after we finish at one of the two northern locations. There's also the path into the wild unknown next to it, but let's not go on a complete walkabout through former hell of all places.
Backtracking for Parsee does seem kinda pointless, that cavern next to her bridge is the tsuchigumo cavern. Not gonna assume Yamame would know what's happening there at all times; but Parsee moving from her bridge would be gossip amongst the other spiders, I'd say. Not to say I don't want to find Parsee first, she's our friend after all. Also, the description on the map at "Hell's river" (the canyon) might be a clue, since it says only oni can reliably cross it without using the bridge. If an oni nabbed her, and she wasn't seen going into town, crossing the canyon might keep the crime out of sight.
[X] Search for Kumiko first - head to Saigo Shudan. -[X] Make a mental note to check the Silent Temple if we pass by later.
If people really want to head to the closest thing I can change my vote to Yuko, but it doesn't really matter to me. This current route also means we don't have to pass through Chireiden.
> [X] Search for Kumiko first - head to Saigo Shudan >> [X] Make a mental note to visit the Silent Temple and check it out if we pass by later
"What do you say we start with Kumiko first?" Yamame nodded. The two of you began heading for the northeast gate, en route for Saigo Shudan... the village of Last Resort.
Exiting the Ancient City, the howling of Hell's River remained constant. The path leading to Saigo Shudan was often exceedingly barren of travelers, and quite narrow. On the way there, you saw only a handful of people traveling. None of them matched the missing persons' descriptions, unfortunately.
Approaching the 'Last Resort Village', a red-horned oni wearing a stylized green dress stood at the entrance. "Hello. Welcome to Saigo Shudan," the oni greeted you and Yamame, in a rather wispy voice. "My name is Narinari. I'm looking for a good friend of mine..."
Yamame introduces herself, and you follow suit.
"Youkai... the both of you? I take it you two came here from the Ancient City... How are things doing over there?"
Yamame proceeded to explain what we had seen and learned thus far, about everything going on in the Ancient City. "Mhmm... and you said there were more missing oni?" Narinari then asked. "There were." You show her the missing person sheets that had been given to you and Yamame. She looks them over for a little while.
"Yes, this is the same Kumiko... she was a good friend of mine. Blue horn, black hair, red eyes, black clothes. I take it you're looking for her, and the other three as well?" You silently confirmed this. "I see... thank you. Please follow me. I have some information that will help you."
Narinari would proceed to bring you and Yamame to what served as her residence in the village. Inside, she would go into details about Kumiko's potential whereabouts, and also Narinari worked as an editor on a large number of oni print works in the past, at times working on some of Kumiko's scripts. The writer also sometimes turned to her for ideas and such.
> ...A little while later...
"...Now I know that Kumiko did have her competitors... writing rivalries and so on... but I don't think anyone would go so far as to abduct her."
"Y'sure about that?" Yamame rather abruptly interrupted.
"...On second thought... no, not completely. Some of those especially traditionally-minded oni tend to not like this kind of stuff."
Yamame turned to face you briefly, quietly mentioning, "If we're gonna be dealing with all these oni, what we really need is some more strength."
"Is there anything else that might help us find Kumiko?"
"There's a cave back near the entrance of the village, Kumiko once told me that she would go there sometimes when she was working on her books or whatnot."
Suddenly, there's a knock on the door. It seems harsh.
[X] Answer it yourself [X] Have Yamame answer [X] Have Narinari answer
Well, this is Narinari's house, so having her answer it is the logical and expected choice.
Which is why if this is the kidnapper that that option is risky.
However, I think that's what we should go with, with maybe some precautions.
We should have Narinari answer the door, with Yamame behind her to web her in case she gets nabbed; or already have her secured with webbing on the floor, for example.
Ideally we set Kisume up in such a way that she can potentially ambush (bucket drop) the guy outside if necessary.
However, getting her outside in the first place would be the challenge, unless Narinari's house has a chimney or something; going out a window would be too obvious.
Downsides: this is somebody who can kidnap oni. Some webbing might not deter them for long if at all.
This might be entirely paranoid, but I feel it's fair to be paranoid for somebody's wellbeing when said person is a close associate of a recent kidnapping victim who's been asking a lot of questions about said victim recently.
[X] Have Narinari answer -[X] Have Yamame (stealthily) secure Narinari using her webs. -[X] See if I (Kisume) can find a way to get outside without being noticed and position myself above the person outside, ready to drop if necessary.
>>17375 I will say this is my second choice if we can't properly safeguard Narinari.
[X] Have Narinari answer -[X] Have Yamame (stealthily) secure Narinari using her webs. -[X] See if I (Kisume) can find a way to get outside without being noticed and position myself above the person outside, ready to drop if necessary. OR >>17375
Coin flip: heads! Heads, [X] Answer it yourself
Tails, [X] Have Narinari answer
-[X] Have Yamame (stealthily) secure Narinari using her webs.
-[X] See if I (Kisume) can find a way to get outside without being noticed and position myself above the person outside, ready to drop if necessary.
> (Pardon the lengthy delay and shorter update. I've been a bit tired/wayward/lost lately.)
> [X] Answer the door yourself
The knocking became louder than before. Whoever it was might not be friendly. In fact, Narinari would probably be the next target after Kumiko, thanks to Narinari's connection with her. It wouldn't be a good idea to let her answer the door, in that case...
While you could have tried to plan out some kind of bucket drop, there wouldn't be much in the way of a surprise factor, given the visitor was already at the front door.
You did always keep a scythe-like weapon inside your bucket at all times, too. While it was small, it was functional.
Floating just off the ground in your bucket, Yamame tells the writer, "Please, move out of sight. This might get ugly 'f this is who I think it is." She shuffles behind a table.
After making sure Narinari was hidden from view, you proceeded to open the door. Opening the door, you came face to face with someone in a black suit, with a dark red stripe going down the middle. They seemed to have talons for hands as well.
"Is Narinari at this residence?" The figure spoke in a heavy tone. Yamame is standing behind you, staring the figure down.
How should you respond?
[X] "Not right now. Was there something you needed from her?" (Let's not blindly antagonize this person. Act like Narinari's somewhere else.) [X] "Where's Kumiko!?" (Wearing something like that, this person probably has information we could use.) [X] Skip the formalities - this figure's clearly here to take Narinari. Grab the scythe. Slash. [X] --- (Respond some other way?)