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Stone and more stone together made stronger stone — or so the logic went. However true it was or wasn’t, it was the sort of logic that would appeal to someone made of stone. It would easily and concisely explain why such an individual would be climbing the Youkai Mountain, otherwise lacking in ready excuses. Thinking of excuses was, after all, difficult when your brain was also made of stone.

Komano Aun, the stony lion-dog defender of sacred spots in Gensokyo, was such an individual, possessing little in the way of wit owing to her gravel-filled head. She didn’t particularly feel a need for excuses but did have a desire to be stronger. Being one rock on top of a much bigger rock, she did feel stronger in some way, though it still wasn’t enough. It would never be enough, she was sure. Otherwise, she would have been able to do something about the problems that tormented others and thus her. She couldn’t, though, and so she had taken off from the Hakurei Shrine, her tail between her legs.

Thinking it over again made Aun slow her steady ascent. Being of very little brain, thinking didn’t do her much good beyond inducing her to sigh and pine to be back at the familiar shrine, staking her usual spot near the torii. There were other places in Gensokyo where she could do the same — she was heading to one just now — but it was the inability to do so there that pained her stony lion-dog heart.

This process of thinking, slowing down, and sighing repeated for the whole sojourn up the mountain. She was so lost in her thoughts that the wolf-people who usually harangued her said very little this time. They looked at her with pity and stepped out of her way, allowing her to continue on her way with nary a comment or entreaty to leave their mountain peacefully. All of this escaped her notice, mostly. It wasn’t until she was near the bounds of the Moriya Shrine that she even saw fit to heed that she had put some distance between herself and the other shrine.

To any human visitor, a shrine’s torii
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Leaving the vote open for a few more hours because I'd like a clear plurality. Next vote for either of the leaders snipes it.
[X] The future appeared dimmer and colder than the evening

Guess I'lll go for the future then
Cool, that's it. The winner is...

[x] The future appeared dimmer and colder than the evening.

Please wait warmly even though Aun's wait will be less so.

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The beast looked into the depths of Hell—and in it, he saw Fear itself: Its gaping maw gnashing, Its sea of teeth crashing against the souls of the damned. And what the beast caught sight of, laying beneath writhing flesh, was he himself—that which fell into the wolf's maw.
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Wake,” said a voice.

Kagiyama rose from her lapse in consciousness. She thought to hold last night’s tryst with alcohol accountable, but the young god knew her own transgressions: Her previous acts of purification still haunted her current self. Left spiritually exhausted, Kagiyama had collapsed under her emptiness. But by good fortune, she had done so only after the Moriya goddess retired for the night. Still, the memory of Moriya wetting her sleeves with tears remained at the forefront of young Kagiyama’s mind, and, were she allowed another chance, she would have tried to console the greater goddess.

The curse goddess lifted herself off the tatami, rose to her knees and, with a free hand, brushed aside strands of disheveled hair. She, however, set her gaze firmly to the floor. There was no need to ascertain who she was talking to—it would be none other than the curse itself… and in foul temperament. Kagiyama kept herself meek and humble, for the curse returned with ruddied vengeance that dripped from its cloak and fingertips.

I have returned,” it said. Then, with a more subdued voice, it continued, “As promised. Now I shall deal with you, the final goddess of these lands. Bring the sheltered youkai here.”

Keeping her head low, Kagiyama whispered, “What shall you do, Curse?”

“Do not question me. Bring it here.

With great reluctance, Kagiyama nodded to the curse before fetching the young wolf. As the goddess took the youkai by the hand, the wolf aimlessly let himself be dragged along, curiosity touching his eyes.

Kagiyama wondered whether she was leading him to his own sacrifice.

The goddess sat the youkai down first before taking a seat next to the young wolf. If anything, she shall be by his side.

“Be still,” said the curse. The youkai complied with diligence. “Now breathe,” the curse clarified, a
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Being Hina is suffering.
File 162270605887.png - (253.49KB, 850x531, __kagiyama_hina_touhou_drawn_by_kurowa_curowa_edit.png) [iqdb]
Kagiyama was subject to the curse’s piercing gaze, sanguine and intemperate in strength. The young goddess remained motionless, careful not to move, lest the curse give into its whims of violence. Insufferable silence crossed the two, and, while the curse’s gaze held vague clemency, Kagiyama found no comfort in its presence. It was unbearable—that stare, that look of displeasure and pity.

She found herself snapping away from its eyes. Still, the curse did not say anything.

The first to break the vow of silence was the wolf youkai. In a growl, he said, “White wolf. Goddess… okay?”

The curse did not respond. Rather, it did not notice. As if in a trance, the curse kept its eyes locked to Kagiyama.

“White wolf!” the wolf snarled, jerking a hand forward to the curse.

It was to no avail. The god whipped backwards and pointed a hand at the wolf, black ichor erupting out of the its fingertips and towards the wolf. “Do not. Touch me,” it said. Roots tore the ground asunder, and in place of the tatami mats were weeds that wrestled through the split flooring like ill growth.

The tar that enveloped the youkai, however, did nothing but to send him into a coughing fit, as he reeled down to the floor, retching murky slime.

The curse took a step forward, revulsion reflecting off its eyes. It crouched, leveling itself closer to the youkai. “Know thy place. Humble thyself and abide by my grace. Were I to will it, this foolish wolf would be naught but red mist.” And, in unsettling fashion, the curse let out a hoarse chuckle, its guttural voice echoing in company with the walls. “But my will is fickle. I shall neither harm your goddess nor you, little creature. Though she bears a mark that will bring her pain and anguish, she shall only find demise should she willingly search for it. At the very least, she shall not meet an untimely death by my hands.”

“Then… okay?” the wolf said as he turned
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You wonder to yourself when this became routine, feeling your legs move you toward your destination.

That is, the abode of one Hatate Himekaidou, a crow tengu such as yourself and a recently formed friend. You get the feeling that any such friends of hers would be categorized as recently formed, with her habit of staying inside all day. If it weren't for the rivarly with that other reporter girl, you suspect she'd not leave at all.

Your thoughts are interrupted as an obstacle impedes your progress - that is, the door. Fist clenched, you raise it toward the door, before letting it fall back to your side. Instead, you grip the knob and turn it, pushing forward. You're left unsurprised at the lack of resistance, taking a moment to excuse yourself in.

Slipping off your geta, you call out for your fellow tengu.

"Hatate, it's me. Here for your daily check up, wanting to make sure you're not dead or anything."

Not waiting for a response, you move further inside. Dust kicks up around your feet as you move, making yet another imprint on the floor. There's small lines clear of it, others in the shape of a hand. Feeling the impulse to slam your head against a wall, you force yourself to look away. Hatate's room is coming up anyway.

"My Room."

A sign hangs on the door, the wooden engraving clean and proper. Underneath is another, this time just made of paper, with a little doodle of the creator's head in the lower right corner.
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technically you haven't failed yet, as you still have the month to make up for either the update-count or word-count threshold. Of course, getting behind early makes it more difficult to catch up, but it's not over yet.
[X]By who, exactly?
did it died

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Big menus of cheap food with cheery service — that was the basic pitch of every family restaurant. And it was often a successful one, at that. The tengu-heavy ends of Gensokyo had seemingly become mushroomed with them, luring in people of all stripes and even species.

One of those famires chains was Freshtaste, an established chain with a new location in an equally recent commercial area. Rumor had it that the latest shop was struggling in its first year, but no one would know by looking: the lighting was as warm, the benches as soft, and the soft drinks as endless as any other location.

A crow tengu woman walked in through the sliding glass doors, the cool breeze of the air conditioning making soft waves in her wings. Her black hair was parted neatly down the middle, straight as a ruler, making her wide forehead protrude and gleam underneath the lights. She instinctively pat the satchel over her shoulder as she strode up to the counter, next to a blackboard listing the day’s specials and a small sign asking politely to wait for service. She glanced into the restaurant proper to get a feel for the room. This evening’s crowd looked like the usual assortment of half-awake salarymen, gossiping mothers, and teenagers filling the booths of the restaurant.

“Good afternoon! Sorry for the wait. Welcome to Freshtaste! How many tonight?”

The tengu turned to the waitress that had just grabbed her attention. She was a little on the short side, with her slender arms holding a small stack of menus against her chest. She was flashing a bright, beaming smile, and the bangs of her grass-colored hair were almost but not quite long enough to cover her eyes. The waitress’s wings flitted behind her. They were thin, almost translucent, with a trail of yellow along the edges that was so thin and golden that they looked gilded. Definitely not crow tengu’s wings; that much was clear.

“No trouble at all! Just me, please,” the crow tengu chirped.

Her smile widened, pleased with her luck as she followed the waitress to a quiet-looking booth. The waitress whisked herself away, returnin
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So, that's it. Sorry it took so long, and even more sorry that it didn't directly follow from the last vote.

The whole thing is that we both kind of lost interest in the whole story concept early on, and it became obvious that we weren't going to be able to force ourselves to keep going. We tried to steer things to a quick ending, but it was that last damn vote that we got hung up on. We had literally no idea how to handle the follow-up.

I decided to just lay this to rest, even if it's not a particularly great or satisfying ending. I don't consider it a very great or satisfying story to start with, so it's only fitting, I guess.

Anyway, it's done and ended, and I'm happy with that part.
>We had literally no idea how to handle the follow-up.

Was the follow-up not 'prank Cirno for funsies and then move on with the story'? Man sometimes you authors seem like a completely different species. Anyway thanks for the ending giving us closure, I hated every word of it.
I wish it was that simple, but it isn't and never was. Like I said, we had a hard time keeping things going in general for lack of interest on our part. By that point, it's better to just cut things off and call it done.

Colour us both dissatisfied with how it turned out, but things were always likely to end up that way. Again, I'm just glad it's over.

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"To the ruler, the people are heaven; to the people, food is heaven."
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Consider this my declaration of story bankruptcy. No work will be going into any of things I have posted for the foreseeable future. You can call that 'dead' if you want to. Present matters mean more to me than what happens in future, to be totally honest.

I won't explain any further. Please respect that.

Good luck with your "Present matters". I hope they go as well as possible.
Gotta admit, I'm waiting just a tiny bit less warmly now.

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[x] Fairies! Damn it!

You curse as you take her hand. "It's fairies. Has to be."

Sanae laughs, clearly less disturbed by that fact than you are. "What makes you think that?"

Ah. You never did tell her about them, did you? "A trio of them gave me some pretty bad grief yesterday. This seems like something they'd do."

"Hmm." She looks around yet again. "Well, I don't see any."

Dusting yourself off, you look again. Yeah, you don't see any either. But you do think you hear a faint giggle from the brush.

"Did you hear that?" You ask.

"Hear what?"
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waiting warmly
Gonna have to wait a bit longer, unfortunately. I'll be out through next week, and should be back the next.

Some serious family stuff came up so I'm driving all over the place and not with my notes.
I'm about overdue for an update, so I figured I'd drop one.

Unfortunately, this family stuff means I'm moving halfway across the country again. So I'm going to be very busy for the next month or so dealing with things that stress me out. Better if I focus on those things, I think, rather than this story. I'll check back in in October.

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[x] Modesty is best.

You briefly consider taking credit for the whole thing, but decide not to.

"Well, I just mentioned the idea," You say, "Sanae agreed that it might be good so we went to discuss it."

Kanako seems a bit more appreciative of that answer. "Showing some initiative, I like that. Sorry, continue."

Feeling a bit awkward after being praised by a god, you take a few moments to recount where you were. "Right. So after the reporter left, we decided to make our way down to the village..."

Your retelling of the day's events echoes over the calm lake as Kanako and the frog listen. Neither seems bored, so perhaps you're doing a good job. You recount your encounter with the worshippers, Minoriko, and your trip to the village.

"... so, we ran to investigate and found the smith building on fire."

Just as you get to the part about the fire, Kanako speaks up.
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[X] Fairies! Damn it!
Heads for the first option
Coin flip: tails!
New thread >>31190

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[x] Wait patiently.

Hina leaves you two to yourselves as she heads off, teapot in hand. After she's out of earshot, Sanae leans in close to you.

"This is weird," She whispers, "What kind of goddess doesn't have a shrine?"

You look around. There's definitely nothing resembling a shrine around, not even a small one. Nor is there anything resembling a path into or out of this small clearing. In fact, when you look to where Hina just walked off to you notice that the underbrush doesn't seem disturbed at all.

"Maybe it's somewhere else?" You whisper back, "We'll just have to ask."

She doesn't seem satisfied with that. "Hmm."

After a few minutes, Hina returns, carefully cradling the now heavier pot. With a wave of her hand, she makes a small bit of flame near the center of the stumps. Much to your unease, it's a bizarre whitish-purple color rather than a more normal orange.

"That's... scary," You mutter.
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[x] All you.
[X] All you.

Honesty is the best policy.
I didn't see this last one before I started writing. Sorry about that.

Anyway, new thread over at >>30922

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The window didn't make much sound beyond a patter when I drummed on it, like unsteady rain. My gloves, besides being a showy part of the uniform, were good at dampening those sounds. It still would have annoyed anyone around -- if I wasn't the only one in that lonely sweatbox of a patrol station. As it was, I was free to drum away, ready to slide the window open if somebody did show up. If only I'd brought a book.

My ears drooped as I gave a sigh. Half a bloody week since I received orders to report to my new outpost. Nevermind that I lived in a settlement on one of the furthest (and cheapest) peaks. No, Koyomi, you're needed for the "good of Tengu Society". That's why I joined up with the guard officially out of academy, of course. My definition of doing good for society, however, must have been different from theirs.

You see, while this merry band of castoffs that I belonged to was officially called the Mountain Outpost Peacekeepers, meant as a way for the higher-ups to maintain a certain presence in what would otherwise be the outlands, we were functionally little more than a tourist information booth. Not a decade ago, this whole area was an unfarmable mess. Now it was a gathering spot for humans and youkai alike. We barely had any jurisdiction over the place, considering it was between us, the kappa, and the humans in terms of territory, and that was probably what made it popular. Any political fallout from our actions, and we'd be without recourse; angry humans and kappa breaking down our doors wasn't something we really wanted to deal with. That's why our everyday role was a safe one: finding and returning lost property, giving directions, promoting businesses by distributing fliers and vouchers, picking up trash...

I wasn't fond of it, but I could do it. The part that chafed me most was the short notice, which left me without much time to find a place to sleep or store my belongings, which were still in a shed back on the furthest peak.

One thing to know about this outpost is that few people lived here. From the constant stream of faces that you could see every night, it may have not seem that way
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Wednesday Report

Spoilers: This is another short one because it's late. Also, no ETA still.

Work was still slow because of the same scene. I managed to get some triage discussion in with my editor despite NaNoWriMo. IRL issues briefly forced me out of my house. Building or maintaining any kind of momentum was difficult until just now.

I'm getting back into it, but there's no talking around the fact that I've lost time. All I can say is that I'll try my best not to lose any more. As with everything else, no promises.
Wednesday Report

In a positive turn, I broke through a fairly difficult portion of the scene, greatly improving it and generally making it more sensible than it has ever been. That does still leave the remainder, but it's a short remainder. I'm almost certain I can clean it up in the next day or two.

As to the rest of the draft, we'll see how that proceeds. I feel pretty good after clearing up this particular stretch of prose, so maybe I can harness that feeling and turn it into momentum.

By the way, if there's any particular point you'd like me to clear up about any of this, feel free to ask. Otherwise, I'll probably just keep it short and sweet. Or as sweet as the moment warrants, anyway.
Just in case anyone doesn't notice somehow: The story continues at >>30879

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"... what?"

Not more than an hour ago, you'd set foot on a short hike through the forest. A forest nowhere near a mountain. And here you are, standing on the edge of a massive mountain ravine?

"The old guy never mentioned this..."

This is not how you thought you'd be spending your day.

At dinner last night you found yourself parked next to a talkative old man. The guy was clearly there to talk to anyone who would listen, and you don't mind catching an earful from a local when you're visiting a new place. By the time you finally stumbled back to your hotel he'd told you not only the nearby attractions, but the entire history of the town since he was a lad.

One thing in particular kept coming up, though - the nearby shrine. He was insistent on you seeing it. Every anecdote or story he told somehow came back to that shrine.

The hike up to it sounded interesting, so you decided to take that in as part of your vacation. You're not much of a believer in spirits and gods and that, but if the shrine was even half as wonderful as this guy said it was worth seeing. The two hour walk there and back wouldn't be a bad way to start the morning either, and after that, you could see some of the other more normal touristy things you had planned on.

Initially the trail was a bit difficult to follow. It clearly didn't get much use, much like the old man said. But after you got deeper into the forest the undergrowth stopped crowding it out and you were able to follow it easy enough. Stone markers guided you along most of the way.
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[x] Wait patiently.
[X] Offer to go with her.

Very slight chance of fairy beach episode.
I forgot to flag the new post as an update, so I'll flag this one instead - I don't know if anyone relies on that. New one is at >>30643

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