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(A short outside of /shorts/.)

It was noontide over the sacred mount of Iwanagahime, and all about her burgeoned the brilliant life of Gensokyo.
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We were streaming Nioh in the middle of the night a couple days ago in VC. Comfy time.
Oftentimes, it's not so much the subject matter — I am, if nothing else, an amateur Japanese scholar, albeit lacking in breadth of knowledge and ability to examine much with the appropriate rigour — as the particular modes of expression employed that leave me unsure I understood. That said, your particular way of wording things is part of the charm, so absolute comprehension is probably beside the point.

Or maybe I tell myself that to feel better about being dumb.
I do appreciate your mentioning it. It's something I'm trying to work at, and I'm very much looking forward to the day when I can get both the poetry and perspicability down without sacrificing out of either one.

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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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Even if you're doomed to stay on the path of misfortune, then you must try with all of your effort to make others avoid it.

[x] ...gently took his hand.
-[x] "Even if I should die earlier than expected, I shall continue on my path with greater diligence than I had before."
[x] gently took his hand.

Eh, even if company tends to suck. Being alone is even worse, at least you'll have good memories of times spent with friends rather than consistent misery and loneliness.
[x] …gently took his hand.

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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 would evoke the hope that either ambition, desperation, or longing bring out. Howeve
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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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[x] The future appeared dimmer and colder than the evening.

The fire Aun had felt so proud of smouldered ever closer to its extinction. She contemplated feeding the starving flame, but the effort felt tremendous. A few sticks to sustain it a little longer, and then what? One or two would become three or four, then five or six, and further seven and many, many more. She would exhaust herself feeding the little blaze for the sole sake of her leonine pride. The more she considered the twigs lying at her feet, the more the whole exercise felt pointless. The blasted fire would persist in its demands until it could persist no more.

Were she less rocky in the skull, the lion-dog would have smirked bitterly, the metaphor for her life pursuits laid plainly before her. Miss Suwako would have had less of a reason to ask and likely would have simply left Aun alone. In actuality, Aun's gravelly brain had long stilled, now more a pond than a whirlpool. All she could see was that the fire was fated to die. The cold and darkness of an autumn night bit felt all the more palpable. This reality shouldn't have troubled her in normal circumstance, except the stillness of her mind allowed more determined thoughts to burrow their way through the gravel.

In many ways, shrines and temples could be just like the fire in front of Aun. She, as guardian, saw to it that the sacred grounds she inhabited thrived by ensuring things remained in order. Once starved of trust, faith, and stability, there was no hope. The housed deities would fade away; the structures would crack and break; and the lion-dog would be forced to abandon her home. Whilst she'd been spared that horror as far back as she could remember, the possibility always remained. That remote chance in and of itself didn't bother Aun as much as being unable to conceive of how to handle such a disaster. There was nothing to say that such failures wouldn't follow her to another home. Besides, Gensokyo's restricted size meant few places for a guardian statue-beast in the first instance.

Even with the little warmth Miss Suwako provided lying drunkenly on her, Aun found herself feeling cold and stony at the idea of being w
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Though she hadn't noticed it the previous day, by the time she woke up the day after discovering Kanako locked inside the living room, Aun was already pondering again on the question of who wrote those letters and why they would have such an effect on the Goddess Yasaka. Miss Suwako and Sanae's combined explanation had been, all in all, too circumspect for the lion-dog's rocky brain.

For starters, what was all this business about someone 'pursuing' Miss Kanako? Sanae had fumbled trying to put that point in words, and Miss Suwako had merely affirmed it before moving on, leaving the lion-dog befuddled. If someone was sending her letters, then there was clearly no need to look for Miss Kanako; they had to already know where she was. Even discounting that, she wasn't a hard goddess to find, given her stature and often booming voice. Every tengu on the mountain could probably hear her on a clear day if she spoke up. Besides, the Moriya Shrine was famous enough and the roads to it as accessible as ever nowadays — barring the occasional wolf issues.

Furthermore, what of the contents of those letters? Asking had gained her no answers on that point. Both Sanae and Miss Suwako said that they couldn't recall specifics. If they were to be believed, then what was written in them was so commonplace as to be forgettable. There was nothing about what they said that struck Aun as deceptive, granted, but accepting such an answer to her curiosity was difficult for an underinformed lion-dog.

All in all, Aun had the feeling that she was very much missing something. The whole time that she was stacking rocks and patrolling that morning, she was stretching the limits of her already limited imagination trying to think of what she didn't know. The only conclusion she could come to was that, still lacking for details, she would have to read the letters and find out for herself.

Her patrol route took her at length back to the house. Still uneasy returning, she stole past the entryway, careful of the boards under her paws as she endeavoured not to make a sound. Nobody seemed to be in the kitchen or the hallway. She stopped at the living room
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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.

"Stop barging in!"

Promptly ignoring this, you open the door. You're forced to notice is that there's absolutely no lighting in here. Letting out your first sigh today, you step in, closing the door behind you. You strain your eyes, only barely making out a silhouette in the darkness.

"Hatate. Yahoo, can you hear me?"


"If you don't say anything, I'll just take that as affirmation that your rival is so much better than you and like, totally well informed."

Seeing as you haven't been yelled at, you get closer, stomping on the floor in the meantime. You're prac
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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, returning moments later with a glass of water and a small b
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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?"

"... never mind."

It'll be no good if you crack on only your second day. As long as you watch your footing, you doubt there's much a fairy could do to you next to the river like this anyway. It would be pretty impressive if they managed to fell a whole tree on you.

Steeling yourself, you go back to work on a new cairn. You're making pretty good pace, actually, though you doubt you can keep this up all day.


Just then, you hear a sound in the brush.

[ ] <ignore it>
[ ] <quickly toss a rock>
Might get one in tomorrow, actually... but we'll see.
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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.

"And then, a miraculous rain-storm put out the fire, right?"

"Oh," You say, "I guess you would know this part already."

"Actually, no," Kanako says, "I was just working away up here. Sanae asked for some heavy rain, so I sent some. She doesn't usually ask lightly, or think to tell me why half the time. Was my guess right?"

You nod. "It showed up in a few moments and put enough of it out that the villagers could handle the rest. We pretty much got overrun by a mob after that. They clearly knew Sanae did it."

You can see the old god's eyes light up at that. "Again, good work! That's exactly the kind of thing we need to be doing right now. How many will be coming?"

"They seemed pretty put off by our location," You say, frowning a bit, "We scouted it on the way back, mostly by foot, and can see why."

"How was it?"

You detail the attack, the dead youkai, your attack, and your subsequent dealings with the kappa. Although you try to give a neutral telling, the bit surrounding your attack and the fact that they seemed pretty happy about killing a man causes so
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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.

"It is." Sanae agrees with a nod, carefully focusing on it. "But I... think it's safe."

Hina just smiles. "Well, it won't hurt the tea. Just don't touch it yourselves, OK?"

"Hina," Sanae asks, as the three of you wait for the tea to brew, "Where is your shrine?"

Hina looks puzzled by the question. But after a few moments, she responds. "This isn't quite like the outside world. I can gather faith directly, without a shrine."


"It's easy to believe in something you can see, right?" Hina giggles, "I just have to make sure to wander close to the village every once in a while. But I try not to get too close. I gather misfortune and curses, but sometimes they get loose from me."

That sounds dangerous, especially when uttered around that purple flame. Sanae, however, doesn't seem to pay it any mind.

"But, there's at least one major shrine here... are you saying goddesses like you don't need even a minor one?"

"That's right,&quo
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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, but this was e
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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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