Pushing yourself off the ground with your foot as a force within your body allows it to float in the air, you spread your arms like wings as you slowly rise up from the earth below. The constant breeze around the mountain picks up and whips about you as you rise higher and higher, slowly drifting up as the current of air carries you higher and higher. The wind slips in between your clothing, allowing it to flutter about freely as you begin soaring at a slightly higher speed.
You don’t know if Miss Aya is around or if she’s busy elsewhere, gathering material for her paper, but at the least you know Miss Momizi’s at her usual guard post. Always dutiful and responsible, each and every day, she guards the top of the waterfall, using her sharp sight to scout out any possible intruders. Although, it goes without saying that there are few visitors to the mountain in the first place. Just about the only one who bothers to come around is the black-white witch, and it seems where she’s concerned the tengu are mostly content with turning a blind eye to.
Making your way to the waterfall, you begin to climb it, floating up and up and up as the sound of the water gushing fills your ears. Beyond the endless torrent of water, there are small caverns hidden from the view of all but the tengu and those with very good observation skills, where dozens of white wolf tengu are posted, poised for attack at the first sign of danger. Passing by one of the caverns, you smile and bring up a hand in a salute, waving as you continue to ascend.
Reaching the top of the waterfall, you drift onto the earth, your feet now standing on a firm foundation once again. You begin walking forward, looking about the area. Cupping a hand around your mouth, you call out in a loud, clear voice, “Miss Momizi?”
Waiting for a minute, you turn when you hear someone’s feet shuffling through grass. You see Miss Momizi approaching from that direction, her fluffy white tail swishing about her feet as she walks, the big ears on top of her head giving off a periodic twitch every now and then, unable to remain still. Her shield and sword are at her back, as is usual.
“What is it, Mikio?” she calls out.
“I just wanted to drop by,” you say, walking to meet her partway, stopping.
“I see,” she says, nodding. She looks at your face. “Do you feel unburdened, now?”
“It’s a bit embarrassing,” you say, scratching the back of your head. “I’ve been getting stares around here.”
“Well, a sudden change does have the tendency to attract attention,” she replies with a small smile.
Smiling in return, you turn and look out at the scenery of Gensokyo, Miss Momizi standing by your side as a breeze comes to dance about the two of you, staying that way for a minute, just admiring the natural beauty of the world. A comfortable silence -- one that you can share only with the people you’re closest too. The fact that you’re sharing a moment like this with her is proof of the many years of bond between the two of you. Yes. Miss Momizi, strict and duty-bound, but also so very caring and motherly, since the day you’ve met her, it was... truly a blessing, to have been in her care.
“What’s with that expression, Mikio?”
“Uh?” you grunt, turning to Miss Momizi with a puzzled face.
“It was like a man making his peace with the world,” she says in a half-joking tone, although you can see a glimpse of concern in her eyes.
“...No way,” you say, laughing it off. “I was just thinking about something, that’s all.”
“Really now?” she says, not entirely convinced. “Then, can you tell me what you were thinking about?”
“About my memories,” you say, turning back around once again. “I was just thinking, that if I was a different person before I lost my memories, and I regained them, what do you think would happen? Would the former me be merged with the me in the now, or would it just override it completely? Or something like that...”
“That’s a difficult question,” she admits, frowning as she attempts to ponder on it. “...I suppose it would be a question of whether possessing or not possessing the memories of what you were makes you a different existence. But, even if you think of it that way, it can still be vague. If you regained the memories of what you once were, would you not ask yourself as you acted, ‘the old me would do this’ or ‘the old me was like this’? If that were to be true, it wouldn’t be that you changed, but that you’re allowing your former memories to influence you.”
“...That sounds complicated,” you say, feeling a slight headache.
“Oh,” Miss Momizi says, looking a little embarrassed. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse you, Mikio. I suppose I don’t have any real answer to give, but... just know that even if you do regain your memories, to us, and everyone who knows you, you’ll always be Mikio, one of our fellow clansmen.”
“Yeah,” you say, nodding. “I won’t ever forget that.”
“Right, right~” a cheerful voice agrees, and the sounds of wing flapping comes from over head.
Looking up, you see Miss Aya drop down in a swoop, landing beside the two of you with her hauchiwa fan held in her hand, a pen stuck in her lapel as always; she’s probably just returned from gathering material. She fans herself furiously, talking at just about the same, rapid pace.
Miss Aya, too. Irresponsible and sometimes thoughtless, but nevertheless, she’s always been concerned for you when it was important. And, you had a lot of fun, traveling around Gensokyo with her, seeing sights, meeting with people, experiencing things that you could not have had you stayed on the mountain the entire time. Along with Miss Momizi, she has been by your side, ever since the day you awoke alone and unaware of everything...
“Even if you regain your memories, don’t forget about us all, ‘kay, Miki?” she says with a wink, giving you a hard thump on the back.
“Of course I won’t,” you say, laughing. “Oh, I almost forgot. Miss Momizi, Miss Aya, you two know about the autumn festival we’ll be holding here, right?”
“Of course we do,” Miss Aya says, fanning herself again. “What kind of reporter would I be if I didn’t know everything that was going on? A very poor one, I’d think! Anyway, what about it, Miki?”
“You’re coming, right?”
“Of course,” she says, winking again. “What kind of tengu would I be if I didn’t leap at the first chance to attend a party? A very boring one, I’d think!”
Miss Momizi clears her throat. “Or a very responsible one.”
“You’re coming too, right, Miss Momizi?”
“Eh, oh, um...” she blinks, taken by surprise. “...Oh, I suppose I could.”
“That’s the spirit, Momizi,” Miss Aya says with a wide grin. “Even a white wolf tengu should know when to put up their feet and relax once in a while. Can’t be dutiful all the time.”
“As long as I don’t end up with your work ethics,” she replies drolly.
“...I’m glad,” you say with a serenely smiling face. “Then, I’ll see you two there.”
“Looking forward to it, Miki.”
...Finally, you trudge up the path leading back to the shrine. The sun is sinking now, painting the sky a bright shade of orange. As you make your way up the long stairs leading up to the shrine grounds, you look on over to the lake. The lake reflects the dyed-orange sky, giving it that same, bright hue. The onbashira faith pillars stand erect, and on top of one of them, you see a tall figure standing there. Unmistakably, it’s Lady Kanako.
Stepping onto the shrine grounds, on a whim, you decide to walk close to the edge of the lake. Walking through the grassy area around it, you spot a pair of eyes hidden amongst the stalks. The eyes belong to the straw hat Lady Suwako is always seen wearing, and it doesn’t take long for you to realize that’s she crouched amongst the tall grass, staring out into the lake. Her expression, disguised by the reeds surrounding her, carries a sense of distance to it, as though she’s reminiscing about a long gone past.
Elsewhere on the shrine grounds, Sanae is busy sweeping all the fallen leaves into one big pile. She certainly seems happier these days, smiling more often, even as she performs chores like this. She’s gotten more confident, as well, and her danmaku skills have been improving, no doubt. But, whether it’s because she’s got you to rely on, or if it’s entirely through her own effort to improve and get used to Gensokyo, isn’t something you can answer...
You walk toward the lake, carefully watching your step as the footing gets rough. Reaching the edge of the giant lake, you push past the reeds in your way, rustling through them, the long stalks brushing past your clothes. Standing beside the little god, who still remains squatted down, only the eyes on her hat reaching up past the reeds, you look down and decide to voice a question.
“What are you thinking so hard about, Lady Suwako?”
She doesn’t reply, not immediately. Instead, she stays silent, and you wonder briefly if she didn’t hear you because she was so deeply focused on something, but soon she raises a hand to the brim of her hat, hiding her eyes beneath the front of it as she stands up from her crouch. Raising the other hand to adjust the hat, her eyes still hidden, she nods to herself, then turns to you, raising her chin while folding her hands together behind her back.
“Eh, not much,” she says with a carefree smile.
“It didn’t look like wasn’t much,” you say with a smile that has a certain amount of slyness to it.
“Oh, just thinking about some boring stuff is all,” she says, her grin growing wider. “You wouldn’t really be interested.”
“Why don’t you tell me about it, and then we’ll see?” you reply back, reaching down for a round stone from the ground, tossing it up into the air before catching it.
“You’re not just gonna let me off, are ya?” she says, her grin becoming more resigned. “I’m telling you, you wouldn’t really be interested.”
“And I’m telling you I already am,” you say without looking at her, winding back a pitch. “If you really don’t want to talk about it, I won’t force you, but don’t assume I wouldn’t be interested in hearing it.”
“Alright, alright, you win this round,” she says with a small chuckle. “...I was just thinkin’ is all. Thinking about whether what we did was right.”
I stop in the middle of throwing the stone, returning to standing position as I turn to Lady Suwako once again. Her face looks dark, and a little gloomy now, and you’re unable to find even a trace of the smile she had on just a moment ago. She reaches up, and pulls the front of her hat over her eyes again, as she tends to do whenever she doesn’t want anyone to look at her face.
“What you did...?”
“Yes,” she says with a slow, heavy nod. “I told you before, didn’t I? That even gods have things that they regret. Right, a long time ago, we made a mistake. A terrible mistake. A mistake that we probably won’t ever be able to take back. But, it was something that had to be done, or so we believed.”
“Is that... right,” you say unenergetically, turning the stone in your hand about on your palm.
“That child has always been fragile,” she says, looking straight out to the lake again. It’s easy enough, however, to guess who the child she’s referring to is. “...When her mother left her in that accident, she was crushed, as any child would be. We wanted to comfort her. We wanted to hold her, and tell her that she wasn’t alone. But, our voices couldn’t reach her, and our hands couldn’t touch her.”
You toss the stone up, catching it in your palm again as you stand, listening.
“Really, what useless gods were we,” she says with a self-deprecating laugh. “We couldn’t even quiet a crying child.”
You wind back a pitch, throwing the stone as hard as you can and watching it skip across the surface of the lake, going far out into the water before finally sinking into it.
“Hey, nice form,” Lady Suwako says, grinning at you. “You’re pretty good.”
“Thank you,” you say, facing her with a weak smile.
“...You have the same face as him,” she says, her grin slowly falling off her face. “The boy who did what we should have done.”
You decide to remain quiet.
“That kid had his own share of problems,” she returns to her musing looking out into the lake as she crouches down in the reeds again. “...But still, it was like he came out of nowhere to pull her out of her sadness. We owe a lot to that boy.”
“I see,” you say, looking out into the lake as well. “And then... what happened to him?”
“He...” she begins, turning her head away. “...He disappeared.”
“Is that all?”
“That’s all,” she says, standing up, a rounded stone cupped in her hand.
She flings back her arm, and then throws the stone forward. The rock flies through the air, hitting the surface of the water with a spin, bouncing off the top of it and continuing to speed forward, skipping and skipping and skipping, making it out much farther than yours did.
“Whoa,” you say, in slight awe.
“Always someone better,” she says, grinning at you and winking.
Leaving Lady Suwako where she is, still seemingly lost in her thoughts -- thoughts of the long-gone past, perhaps -- you look up at the pillars jutting out of the glittering surface of the wide Suwa Lake. So tall and majestic, those pillars that represent the faith in the shrine are. But in truth, they’re graves, tombstones for the children who were sacrificed; whose lives were taken away from them, for the sake of the lives of others. Whether that’s the right thing or not, whether it’s something that can be or should be accepted, isn’t a question that you can answer.
Atop one of the high pillars still sits the sky god. Walking forward a step, you stand up on the tip of your toes, pushing your body up from the ground and into the air. Gently, you float, drifting steadily across the air, away from the ground and toward the water. The tips of your feet just barely skim the surface of the lake below you, and with a final push, you lift yourself higher and higher into the air, flying to meet the sky god. As you approach, you notice that she’s got her back facing you, looking toward the direction of the mountain’s summit, at the shining rays of the orange sun behind it. A sake bottle is floating at her side, and in one hand, she holds a dish to hold the drink.
Soundlessly, you continue to approach her, moving toward one of the pillars next to hers. Your foot makes a light tapping sound as you touch down on the smooth surface of the pillar, able to feel the ground beneath your feet again. As the ever-present breeze of the mountain blows by around you, tossing your hair about your face, though not violently or turbulently, you stare up at the summit as well. Taking a deep breath of the mountain air, you heave a sigh, sitting down on the top of the pillar, your legs hanging out below.
“Drinking already, Lady Kanako?” you ask, not turning your head toward her yet. “It’s not even past dinnertime yet.”
“I just happened to be in the drinking mood,” she replies coolly.
“I see,” you say, leaning back and placing your hands behind your back, craning your neck back and looking up at the quickly darkening sky. “It feels a bit somber today.”
“Is that so?”
You look to your side, glancing over to the god. She’s still looking off at the summit, blinking very rarely. The sake bottle floating at her side tips itself at her command, pouring into her dish. Lifting it to her lips, she takes a quiet sip from it, draining the dish in a single go. Her eyes seem unfocused, as though she’s daydreaming about something, though it doesn’t really feel like she’s ignoring your presence, either. Rather, it seems like she’s thinking very hard about something, while still paying attention to the things going on around her. Or... maybe it’s because the subject of her thought is...
“Looking at that country bumpkin’s face today,” she begins to speak again, pausing to smack her lips for just a moment as the sake bottle fills her dish again, “that look of reminiscence... It just reminded me of a few things in the past as well, so you can blame her for creating the somber mood.”
“Ah, I see,” you say, nodding. “Maybe you’re thinking of the same things that she is? You two have a long past together, don’t you?”
“I wonder,” she says, swirling around the drink in her dish. “I don’t want to admit it, but that bumpkin god and I are similar, in a lot of ways. But we’re also very different, in how we think. Even if the two of us are thinking about the same thing, what we conclude from that might be completely different from one another.”
“Then, may I ask what you’re thinking about?”
She hesitates for a moment, remaining still. Then, draining her dish with a single sip, she begins to speak again, in a slow and weary voice. “...How deep does the difference run between ‘doing what’s right’ and ‘doing what’s kind’? Sometimes, those two things can be mutually exclusive. In what situation would it be better to do what’s right, and in what situation is it better to do what’s kind?”
“T-that certainly does seem like something you’d need think hard about,” you say with an uneasy laugh.
“The answer isn’t something that someone else can answer for you,” she continues, sake pouring into her dish. She lifts it to her lips, but pauses, “It’s something that only those faced with the choice can decide for themselves. But even if you understand that, it can be difficult to be certain, even within your own mind, whether what you did was for the best.”
You keep quiet this time, returning your gaze to the sky, now darkened.
“If you were faced with that choice,” she continues, drinking half a sip from the dish before continuing, “...Which would you choose?”
This is too a question too hard to just give one answer too. Still, if asked if you would want to die because of what you are or be alive for someone else it would be best to do what is right. It is just a repetition of what already happened.
Doing "what is right" versus "what is kind"? If I'm understanding this correctly, doing what is right consists of picking out the scenario that will have the greatest positive effect on the subject in question, while what is kind considers only the emotional states of those involved. What is right and what is kind are far too generic questions to be of any use in any given situation.
Assuming (perhaps vainly) for a moment that Kanako is considering Mikio/Hoshuu's effect on Sanae as well as how to react, and assuming misgivings regarding headgames' desire and ability to cause damage are well-founded, the options seem disparate. But considering the long term, a headgames-mediated betrayal of Sanae could be much more traumatic than him simply disappearing again (leaving him alone would then not be so kind), or informing Sanae of the situation and having her and Hoshuu make the final call. The real question here is "What course of action would ultimately cause the least physical and emotional damage to Sanae?" From the perspective of a goddess, or any other figure who must make choices that span beyond decades, kindness is subsumed within what is right.
[X] To do what’s right.
That's assuming a lot, but checking your information is a key component of doing what is right. If anyone can do fact-checking on this scale, it's the inhabitants of Youkai Mountain. Conveniently, all of them have a vested interest in Mikio and varied talents that could cover every variable.
And they'll all be in one place in the near future.
>>19246 You know, we've spent the last two months (has it been that long already?) simply choosing what order to visit the cast, which is generally not a taxing task, so seeing posts like this feels kind of weird.
If that's true, then we're asked the question because they both have different opinions on what to do about it. 'Kindness' might to permit the current state of affairs to continue, and 'right' may mean to deal with the problem. I wonder who thinks which?
There may be betrayal in the future, and I don't mean on the part of Mikio.
"No good, no evil... only choices and consequences."
"Right" and "wrong" are not set in stone, they are relative. Maybe when you are a god and can see more than a human you can decide better what is right and what isn't. And I guess doing what is kind is not a god's job.
>>19232 [x] If you find yourself asking that question, you're already wrong. Either what you're calling "kindness" is really only selfishness; or what you're calling "right" isn't right at all; or both. And you know that, or you wouldn't be hesitating.
(This phrasing is probably totally out of character; I'm just a passerby stopping in for the ethical dilemma.)
[x] If you find yourself asking that question, you're already wrong. Either what you're calling "kindness" is really only selfishness; or what you're calling "right" isn't right at all; or both. And you know that, or you wouldn't be hesitating.
[+] "I'd say that most of the time they're the same thing, but if they're not... Well, you'd better be really, really sure that hurting someone is the right thing to do. If you are, then, yeah, doing what's right is probably more important."
Best way I can phrase it that doesn't go into out-of-character lengthy exposition.
Leaving aside discussion of the value of thinking in absolutes:
Hurt feelings recover. People change things and let anything change them in turn, so cruelty can be forgiven and undone. In the long run, hindsight prevails. But even if they never forgive you, if you truly care for someone you would do what's right for them, even if it hurts both of you.
But doing "evil" cannot be so easily undone.
A classic example is this:
A loved one breaks their legs badly. During the recovery phase, the pain of physiotherapy is intense, it's incredibly hard for them to keep at it. Kindness would have you allow them their understandable and forgivable weakness, such that their muscles atrophy and they never walk again. But the right thing is to whip them, push them, yell, cajole, coerce and bully if need be. Make them walk, regardless of it hurting. Or they'll never heal and your false "kindness" will fester and rot.
Not so much being cruel to be kind, but that like everything else, real kindness is a long con.
Did your kindness lead to an unwanted result? Then you weren't actually being kind.
Did your righteousness lead to an unwanted result? Then you weren't actually doing what's right.
More important than talking in circles about morality is to think about who Kanako is talking about in doing what is 'right' and doing what is 'kind'.
>“I don’t want to admit it, but that bumpkin god and I are similar, in a lot of ways. But we’re also very different, in how we think. Even if the two of us are thinking about the same thing, what we conclude from that might be completely different from one another.”
Suwako might have asked the same question had we chosen to speak with her. Who will we be agreeing with here?
>>19305 >More important than talking in circles about morality is to think about who Kanako is talking about in doing what is 'right' and doing what is 'kind'.
Kanako hasn't, and probably won't, tell us what each choice means for her/Suwako's plans. The posed question is a purely moral one, and we can only make assumptions regarding their intentions. Even if we knew everything, it's possible that what one considers right is what the other considers kind. It is also possible she is posing this question not so we can make her decision for her, but to take measure of our thought processes.
You are right in that we need to tighten our arguments, but picking sides is not the issue.
You remain silent, just staring straight up without a reply. Breathing slowly, you let out a deep sigh before lowering your chin, your gaze directed ahead. Dangling your feet, moving them up and down like a bored child, you lean back on your hands. Even without the question of whether absolutes exist or not, a choice like that is always a difficult one. What is the right thing to do, and what is the kind thing to do, and what should you do when they don’t appear to be mutual?
“I would probably...” you trail off, falling into silence again. What is it that you can do? What is it that you should do? What is the option that is best? Does such an option even exist? Doubts, doubts, doubts, nothing but doubts fill your mind as you ponder the question, “...I would probably choose to do what’s right, even if it isn’t the kindest thing to do.”
You look to Lady Kanako, who turns her head your way and studies your face for a moment before turning away with, a wry smile on her lips. The light of the setting sun casts a shadow over her face, and you don’t know whether it’s because of the trick of the lighting, but somehow, she seems extremely weary.
“...I see, so that’s your answer,” she says shortly after. She lets out a sigh, but somehow, she also seems a little relieved. A tired smile on her face again, she turns to you, “No matter what you do, don’t end up regretting it. The worst pain is one that lasts.”
You force a smile. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
The atmosphere turns to one of silence, with neither of you speaking at all, as the sun continues to sink behind the mountain’s summit. Without the sun’s rays lighting the sky, it quickly grows dark, robbed of its twilight. The barely visible moon glows brighter now, as do the countless stars up above. Looking up at them, you stand up on the top of the pillar you’re sitting on, your neck still craned up as you stare at the sky.
“It’s getting dark,” you mutter.
“So it is,” the goddess near you says, taking a drink from her dish, “It’s getting cold, as well. Do you want some sake to warm you up?”
“Thank you, but I’ll pass for tonight,” you say, shaking your head.
What is right, and what is kind...
Gently, your body lifts itself up into the air, your feet leaving the pillar top. Drifting across the lake, you float on over to its edge, touching down on the ground. You look back at the graveyard in the middle of the lake, and see Lady Kanako, still sitting on that same onbashira, her figure illuminated by the light of the moon now. Facing forward, you walk away, her words still running through your mind. What is right, and what is kind...
Unconsciously, your hand moves toward the mask at your waist, only realizing it when you feel its smooth, cracked surface against your finger tips. As though you’ve been scalded, you quickly take your hand away from it, looking down at your palm as if to check for burns. You shake your head, taking in a deep breath and letting out a heavy sigh before lowering your arm, beginning to walk back toward the main building behind the shrine.
You stop, hearing footsteps from elsewhere. Your head turning to the direction of the footsteps, you see Sanae, approaching from the direction of the nearby tool shed, presumably from leaving her broom there. She notices you about the same time you notice her, and her face lights up as she quickens her pace, calling out to you.
“Hey, welcome back!” she greets with a bubbly grin, her voice matching her enthusiasm.
“Yeah, thanks,” you say, turning your body fully.
“You’re back pretty late,” she notes, looking up at the darkened sky. “Where were you out all day?”
“I thought I’d visit some friends of mine. I let them know about the festival we’re planning.”
“Ah, right,” she says in comprehension, nodding. She clenches her hands into little fists, giving them a small pump into the air, “We’ll show everyone that we can throw a party just as well as everyone else here, right?”
With a smile, you imitate her little fist pump, “Right.”
Breaking out into a small giggle, she lowers her hands, folding them behind her back as she faces the direction of the lake, stretching her arms to the rear as she looks out toward the lake’s center. Her smile still lingers on her face. Certainly, since that day, she’s been smiling more often. She’s happy. Overjoyed, even. The way she seems so cheerful, so bright, it seems so different from the scared, timid girl she was, ten years ago. But, that’s not entirely true. If you peel back the outer layer, just a little, you can catch a glimpse of her fears, her insecurities...
What is the right thing, and what is the kind thing?
“...Hey,” you call out to her, suddenly.
She turns around, puzzled. “Hm? What is it, Hoshuu?”
“Do you... remember that day?’
“Um... ‘that day’?” she repeats, giving you a look of confusion.
“The day I left.”
“...Of course I remember,” she says, and her smile suddenly falls from her face. Is it just your imagination, or was there hesitation to her voice?
“I said I would go and buy you a birthday cake,” you continue, recalling the events of that day. “...And I took the bike, and started pedaling back toward the city. And then...”
You break off here, your voice trailing to a stop.
“...And then, and then what happened?” you finally say.
“What do you mean, what happened...? That’s when you disappeared... you never came back,” Sanae says, and there’s no mistake to it now; she was definitely hesitating before voicing her words. Almost as if trying to force a lighter mood, she puts on a smile, speaking in a louder tone of voice, “And I’m never gonna forgive you for it, you know. Even if you--”
“Is that really what happened?”
She goes silent, just like that.
You walk forward. “...After I left, what happened to me? I can’t remember it at all. What happened to me, after I left?”
She backs away, looking to the side, her voice nervous -- threatened. “I--I don’t know. I told you, you just disappeared after that. If you don’t remember what happened, how should I?”
You stop, but Sanae continues to back away, now looking to the ground, afraid to meet your eyes.
“A-and besides, it doesn’t matter now, right?” she suddenly speaks up, lifting her chin. She seems irritated, scared, and desperate all at once. “You’re here now. You came back. You kept your promise, so... so that’s all.”
Ignorance is never bliss. To willfully be stupid, for any reason, even happiness, is heresy. It's a lie, and it's false. To truly be happy, to truly accept who you are, you must know and understand all aspects of your character, even the negative scary things.
[x] ... Knoweldge can be a curse. You know that's the case when even youu is scared of what we'll come. 'Finding the truth at any cost' are the naive words of someone who never had to make a difficult choice.
>>19320 >I expect that Suwako removed Hoshuu whilst Kanako wanted a 'kinder' option.
That's the impression I get too.
>>19325 >Knoweldge can be a curse. You know that's the case when even youu is scared of what we'll come. >'Finding the truth at any cost' are the naive words of someone who never had to make a difficult choice.
It's not that reliving past trauma is a desirable thing in and of itself. It's just that happiness predicated upon ignorance tends to eventually collapse in on itself.
Long ago. Far away. Life was clear. Close your eyes.
>>19349 >...Don't often get that kind of prompt effect in this story. It's a nice, if possibly disturbing, change.
She's dealing with the resentment she's built up over being abandoned, when she's also so fucking happy just to see him again. She needs to vent that frustration, but she's also afraid of losing them again, especially since she doesn't know what made him leave in the first place.
What I'm afraid of is how she'll react when she finds out it was her gods who kicked him out, who never told her the truth about it (that she wasn't abandoned), this then led to Hoshuu's memory loss and identity crisis, and worse that the problem is still there, and no one seems to been able to help him with it.
She may suffer unreasonable guilt over the ultimate reason for giving him the boot--it was to protect her--or she may redirect her resentment toward her gods, especially if they can't fully explain what about him was such a danger.
>>19351 Hate to burst your bubble, but the last update suggests that Sanae is not as innocent as she appears. She already knows something about our disappearance, and she ain't telling. Any guilt she may be feeling is far more likely to be born of her role in this affair.
>>19371 Not likely. Sanae was a relatively normal girl when Hoshuu was still with her, so he would remember it if this supposed trauma occurred prior to his disappearance. That she is only expressing this poorly hidden guilt and secrecy when questioned specifically about the events surrounding his departure could only be indicative of underlying shame, guilt, and worry about some hidden event that we do not currently remember. Something I believe she had a hand in. Something important enough that she is willing to lie to her beloved Honshuu.
Otherwise, if she were truly innocent, why would she look away? Or feel threatened by this line of questioning? Or hesitate to tell it straight? It's obvious to even the most naive readers that she is lying.
Sanae knows something, and we're about to find out what. After Lion updates his other story.
I'm getting more of a vibe that Sanae's in the MC's old mindset. She doesn't know why he vanished and doesn't want to know. She's happy now, sorta, and is afraid that digging around in Honshuu will spoil that happiness.
>>19380 >>19378 is postulating that Hoshuu didn't quite disappear without a trace, that there was some final event that Sanae remembers and we don't. Something she would rather forget, and would prefer if we refrained from remembering it.
She freezes in place, her hands clenched nervously in front of her chest. There’s definitely a look of fear in her face. Her eyes wide and pointed down at her feet, her lips pursed together tightly, and her body slightly hunched over, her shoulders shrunken in to make herself look as small as possible. The priestess, though she was smiling cheerfully and happily just a few moments ago, now is the perfect display of sheer child-like terror. Yes, the way she looks now reminds you of how she used to be, ten years ago...
“Do you really not know what happened?”
She gives no movement, no reply, still frozen. Only her eyes move, the pupils darting up for just a peek at your face before her gaze is firmly planted on the ground again. Slowly, she begins shaking her head. At first, slowly and shakily, picking up in speed until it becomes frantic. Continuing to shake her head, almost insanely, she backs away, her lips parting to let out a slurred murmur.
“N-no...” she says, shaking her head even now. “I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t want to know.”
What is the truth?
On that night, what happened to you... no, what happened to the boy named Hoshuu?
Your head leans back, and you find yourself staring up at the night sky.
“Yeah, I know!”
Riding along the road leading to the city, you work your legs furiously, pedaling as fast as they’ll allow you to, gliding across the pavement. Shifting your bike and turning along the lane, you continue to bike toward town, mindful of the time. The cold evening air smacks against your face as you speed along chilling your entire body, but this is nothing. Exhaling loudly, you look up at the cloudy sky overhead, seeing just a little part of the moon’s hidden face.
Cycling into town, you check your watch as you ride by one of the street lights: it’s 9:54 PM, which means you’d better hurry. You stop your bike just outside of the closest bakery, practically tossing it to the ground in your haste to get off it. The lights are still on, thankfully! Hastily, you pull the bakery doors open, hurrying inside, breathing hard from your frenzied pedaling.
“Excuse me!” you practically shout, coughing as you approach the store counter, where an elderly looking man stands. “You’re, you’re still selling, right?”
“We’re just about to close down,” the man says, not minding you a whole lot. “You should have come earlier.”
“W-wait, please,” you say desperately, placing both hands on the counter. “I need a cake. I really need it. I know it’s really late, but please!” You lift your hands and press the palms together in a begging gesture. “I’ll pay double the cake’s price, or whatever, so please, just let me buy one.”
The bakery owner turns his head, looking over you with weary eyes, and then he sighs. “...I suppose it would be bad for business to turn away such an eager customer. Alright, choose a cake, but don’t spend too much time deliberating over it.”
“Thanks, sir!” you say, grinning as you look down at the selection below the counter. You browse over them in haste, running a finger across the glass display. Eventually, your finger stops above a small cake, simple yet pretty in design, coated in chocolate icing over the top. “I’ll take this one. And, um, could I get something written on it, too?”
“You’re asking a lot,” the man says, though he passes a piece of paper and a pen to me anyway. “Write what you want written on it there. It’ll take a while, though.”
“Thank you,” you say, bowing your head in almost ecstatic joy. Snatching up the pen, you hold down the piece of paper with your thumb and forefingers as you write on it, etching ‘Happy birthday, Sanae’ onto the surface of the paper, sliding it and the pen back to the bakery owner once you’re done, “Here, sir.”
“Sanae?” the bakery owner mutters, looking at the page, “So you must be the kid...”
“Wait here a bit,” he says, bending down and removing the cake I selected from the display. He turns, and walks into a door behind the counter.
Stepping back, you look around the store while you wait, looking at all the bread and cakes over sale. A few minutes later, and the bakery owner returns, a pink packaged box in his hands, which he places on the counter. He tells you the price, and reaching inside for your wallet, you produce the bills and hand them over. You didn’t have to pay double the price after all. You take the pink package into your arms, turning around to leave the store.
“Hang in there, kid,” the bakery owner says after you.
The moment you step outside, you’re greeted by the sound of falling rain.
“Oh, crap,” you say, looking up at the sky.
A sudden downpour’s started in between you entering and leaving the bakery, heavy raindrops splashing against the ground. It was cloudy before, so you figured it might start raining, but you didn’t think it would be so thick so soon. Concerned for your packaged, you hold it underneath one arm, pulling your arm out of your jacket, switching the package to your other arm as you pull of your jacket entirely, wrapping it around the box. Shivering as you hold the bundle in your arm, you reach down and upright your bike, placing the bundle in the basket before swinging a leg over it to mount it.
Your teeth chatter as you begin biking out of the city, heading toward the shrine. The frigid rain’s already completely soaked your shirt and your jeans, leaving you feeling almost completely numb from the cold. You only hope that the rain won’t make it through the jacket and ruin the cake, because you won’t be able to get another one at this point!
“Why’d it start raining this much anyway...?” you bemoan to yourself, although most of it comes out in chatters from your teeth clattering together.
Cycling along the road, you turn your head to the side as a light approaches, coming from the headlights of a car. It speeds by on the lane next to you, nearly splashing water on you in the process. You turn your head forward again, looking ahead of the road. It won’t be too long ‘til you reach the shrine again, so as long as you don’t end up freezing to death along the way or something--
What was that?
What did you hear just now?
Die die die die die die die die DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE DIE.
ALL OF YOU SHOULD JUST DIE.
The front wheel of your bike suddenly slips on the wet road, and you feel it spiraling out of control, the handles jerking to the left and right. Unable to stop the bike from leaning hard to one side even as it speeds along, you feel yourself falling from the seat, thrown to the ground, your bike sliding and skidding across the rain-splashed concrete. There’s a sudden, twisting pain in your ankle, and you wince in pain as you try to push yourself up. Ugh, did you twist it when you fell?
You look over to the bundle that’s fallen out of the bike’s basket. Biting your lip and ignoring the pain in your ankle, you limp your way over to it. Crouching down on the knee of your injured leg, you dig the package out from your jacket, your body hunched over it as you open the lid. As you feared, the cake is completely ruined from the fall. Damn it, why!? You feel your eyes growing hot with tears of frustration, as the raindrops continue to pour down around you...
Wiping your eyes with the back of your hand, you close the lid, picking up the package and standing up, leaning on your good leg. Even if it’s ruined, it should still be edible. You pick up your jacket and wrap it around the box again, into a bundle. Turning around, you begin limping toward your fallen bike to retrieve it and--
EVERYONE JUST DROP DEAD.
You turn around, looking behind. Immediately, you’re blinded by the headlights of a car, growing brighter and larger as it comes closer. You’re in the car lane. When your bike steered itself out of your control, it had entered the lane, and when you fell you were in the lane. Why didn’t you notice sooner?
The car slams its breaks, and tries to steer wildly to avoid you, but the rain has rendered its wheels useless, and it continues to barrel toward you even as it turns to its side.
You fly into the air.
Your body feels heavy as you lie on the ground. So heavy that you can’t move a single part of it, even an inch. So you lie there, on your back, looking up at the endless darkness of the night sky. There are usually stars there, but the rain clouds have blocked them all out. And is it just your imagination, or has the sky turned red? An endless stream of rain continues to fall down from the sky, red little droplets splashing against you and the ground. A rain of blood that continues to pour and pour and pour.
Breathing hurts. It hurts so much. With every gasp for breath you feel like thousands of blades are being stabbed into your chest. It hurts so much that you wish you could stop breathing, but you can’t seem to stop yourself from doing it at all. Against your will, your body continues to breathe and breathe and breathe and cause you so much pain.
Someone’s muttering, panicked and frightened, but you can’t make out the words over the sound of the raindrops. The voice is so distant, and the raindrops are so close, that it’s completely drowned out in the torrent.
The raindrops are growing distant now, too, and breathing doesn’t hurt anymore.
You can’t seem to think straight.
Is this dying?
It feels familiar.
Your body gives a sudden, involuntary spasm, and your head falls to its side, your mouth hanging open, still desperately gasping for air. Next to you, you see something glinting, reflecting what little moonlight is shining through the thick clouds. What is it? It’s a key. A key. Whose key? It must be your key. That’s right. The sound of a wind chime rings in your ears. That key is the proof that you have a home to return to.
Right... home. Gotta get home...
Weakly, you try to budge your fingers. Heavy. So heavy that it takes all of your strength to move your arm even a little. You try to lift it, to move your hand toward the key shining beside you. You reach out with your arm, as far as it’ll go, stretching even your fingers to try to reach it. Your body continues to breathe involuntarily, your gasps for breath becoming more and more frenzied with each passing second. With all of your effort, you reach out for the key again. Your fingers grasp at the key, dragging it back, succeeding. You grasp it tightly in your hand, the tightest that you can, so you don’t ever lose it.
Your body gives another convulsion, and your head faces up again, at the sky above. There’s someone standing above you. A child, muttering something to themselves, or maybe to you. Two other figures stand behind the child, looking down at you. A short one, and a tall one. Who... are they? You can’t seem to... figure it out.
The child crouches down, hugging their knees.
What is that... that child is muttering?
You can hear it, almost, even though the sound of the rain is still so loud.
“The path that never ends. The child that walks that path, How much more must he walk? How much more must he suffer? Longing for home, he sighs If only, if only, I were I mother’s arms...”
inb4 this locks us out of a good endingNah, Lion isn't the type to pull a stunt like that.
At worst, I imagine he'd probably just throw us our second Bad End and make us go back to pick the choice that's actually there (which I wouldn't mind him doing at all, if this choice turns out to hurt the story he wants to tell).
>Your body gives another convulsion, and your head faces up again, at the sky above. There’s someone standing above you. A child, muttering something to themselves, or maybe to you. Two other figures stand behind the child, looking down at you. A short one, and a tall one. Who... are they? You can’t seem to... figure it out.
The rain and this family driving that suspiciously resembles the three people we know is just a coincidence. After all there would be easier ways to bump us off that aren't on Sanae's birthday, right?
>>19425 Lion quite clearly has a story he wants to tell. I trust him to do what he thinks is best for the plot. If the write-in turns out to change the plot in a way he can't work with (though I can't imagine how), he can disregard it, give us a bad end for it, or simply write something like "you try, but you're all but dead, so you can't and close your eyes" (I'm actually kind of expecting this one, to be honest). If it's for the sake of the story, I would personally have no objections to any of these actions.
On the other hand, perhaps this could give inspire him and him ideas on different ways he could approach future events (I doubt it would be anything big, but hey).
Either way, I doubt Lion would throw out over a year of writing, not to mention what must have been a shitload of extremely well thought out pre-planning, just to screw over the readers for one write-in that can easily be worked around. I can't imagine any sane person would be willing to do that.
Blood spills out from your open mouth, landing on your face and slowly dribbling down your chin. The unending stream of rain continues to wash over your body, mixing with the red blood and pooling underneath your battered and beaten figure. Still, you keep your eyes open. Even though your eyelids feel so heavy, you can’t seem to close them.
The figures standing over you don’t move, only watching you. The child-like one ceases their muttering, and takes a step out from the shadows, moving closer to you as the crimson moonlight overhead illuminates their face. Their hair is pure white, like snow, distinct from everything else which appear to be red in your eyes. The white-haired child crouches down by your side, staring at your face. The child hugs their knees, wrapping their arms around their legs.
The child’s lips open, and--
The path that never ends
Clear now. The sound of the rain splashing around you seems to stop completely, only the child’s singing voice filling your ears.
The child that must walk the path
How much more must he walk
How much more must he suffer
An innocent voice of a child.
The child extends their hand, leaning forward over your bother. The fingers of that small hand reach over, touching one of your bloodied cheeks. But you can’t feel their touch. You can’t feel the child’s fingertips touching your cheek. Only the cold that’s spread throughout your entire body. But even so, it feels... comforting, somehow...
Longing for home, he sighs
Seemingly by themselves, your eyelids begin to droop...
If only, if only, I were in mother’s arms
...and you close your eyes.
Your chin drops, and you turn your gaze back down to the shrine grounds. Sanae is still standing there, her head held between her hands, afraid to meet your eyes, cowering from you. No, maybe she’s not cowering from you but from something else. Cowering, from your words, perhaps? Afraid of the things you might say, afraid of the things that she might learn. In any case, right now, she appears to you as nothing more than a scared child -- pitiable and pathetic. You say nothing, and she doesn’t say anything either, the two of you lost in an air of deep, uneasy silence.
“...Sanae,” you call her name, finally deciding to break the silence.
She jumps at the sound of your voice, frightened out of her wits. Momentarily forgetting herself, she turns her head toward you, yet, upon a single glance she immediately looks away again, at her feet, to the side, up at the sky -- anywhere but directly at you. She’s a wreck. You watch her carefully as she opens her mouth, her lips trembling, her voice similarly shaking as she speaks.
“Let’s... let’s go on inside, Hoshuu,” she says, trying to regain her usual energy. “I-it’s getting cold, and tomorrow’s another busy day, right?”
“On that night, I...”
“Can we not talk about this?” she cuts you off, using a sharp tone of voice that you’ve never heard her use before, without the trembling. “Please, let’s just not talk about this.”
“...when I went inside, it began raining and...”
“Stop!” she exclaims in a near-hysterical shriek, “Please, just stop it!”
“...and I lost control of the wheels and fell...”
“No!” she sinks to the ground, crouched down with her hands covering her ears, her eyes squeezed shut as she shakes her head, “Please, stop it! I don’t want to hear it!”
Willful ignorance is absolutely disgusting. Face up to the fucking truth, Sanae. You'd think that a girl who has the power to make miracles wouldn't run away from the thought of someone getting resurrected and/or reincarnated or whatever.
>>19495 I have no idea where you guys are getting this idea. As far as we can tell, Sanae did nothing except try and have a happy birthday with Honshuu. To postulate that she was involved in his death is just strange, and largely unsupported, unless I am forgetting something.
If anything, it was largely the gods doing, and at this point, Sanae hasn't met them yet.
>>19496 >I have no idea where you guys are getting this idea. As far as we can tell, Sanae did nothing except try and have a happy birthday with Honshuu. To postulate that she was involved in his death is just strange, and largely unsupported, unless I am forgetting something.
Her role be indirect, but apparently she feels responsible for it in the extreme. Since she seems to know what happened, if Sanae wasn't one of the figures about him when he was dying, then her gods may have told her about it afterward.
>>19513 Yes, we were. However, in light of new evidence, that theory is pretty much blown out of the water. I don't know who the hell was crying over us when we died, but it probably wasn't Sanae. This still leaves justification for Sanae's current mood as an unknown. Perhaps she really is just that weak, and doesn't want to know.
I don't think it's her being weak as much as her feeling guilty. If we Hoshuu had died in a car accident, it would have been on the news. Maybe his face was disfigured, or maybe they didn't show the body at all - but even if there were no details, Sanae could probably put two and two together.
So she repressed the memory. She believed, desperately hoping that it wasn't Hoshuu, that it was some other poor kid, that Hoshuu simply forgot about her and hadn't died because she agreed to some cake on her birthday.
I had a much longer post typed up, but firefox ate it. Figures, after I've been away for months. Allow me to condense: Lion, you have officially passed RaAN as the best writer on this site. You are my hero. Everything I shat up your threads about in the past has been resolved flawlessly. You have inspired me to start writing again as soon as my hand heals. The Citizen Kane Applause image is already being used on /youkai/, so I had to settle for something else. Now to go to bed before I make more of a fool of myself. Oh, and
I am going to say this right now: Lion, This was great. I just marathoned the whole entire fic, And I'll be damned if a single person on this site is disappointed with how it went. You made an amazing thing for a new writer, and after 2 years, This story is going to get a really sastifying ending.
I have to agree with the person above me, this has been a truly enjoyable read.
[X] “...and then I died.”
Maybe it's just me but the choices we've been given seem to be somewhat connected to our discussion with Kanako over choosing to do what is right or do what is kind. On one hand we can face up to (what seems to be) the truth of our situation or we can be hypocrite given our words previously and tell Sanae something that might make her feel better.