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File 137831578397.jpg - (385.18KB, 600x800, back in the saddle.jpg) [iqdb]
Hi again. Having written Being Meiling and Pleasant Meadows, I've decided to go back to something fairly light and fluffy. This story is in the same continuity as the previous stories, so you might want to read them to have a clue as to what's going on:


Anyway, updates will NOT be daily. I'm taking some courses, so I might be able to update two or three times per week. Maybe.

With all that aside, let's see how this goes!


"This is all a total load of bullshit!" I declare, folding my arms. "Always has been, always will be!"

Ichiro just stares at me with a raised eyebrow. Damned unflappable bastard. That always irritated me about him; no matter what you said, the guy was totally immune to it. Anything from insults to come-ons, he just reacted with a raised eyebrow, and not a whole hell of a lot else.

Actually, that's kind of a trait of all tengu males. That damn stiff demeanor. It pissed me off so much, that I finally went off to find greener pastures. I mean, I like a guy who reacts during a frenzied bout of lovemaking, you know what I mean? Or a girl, too, but my people can be so damned uptight about the stupidest things. Kinda why I left the village in the first place.

But yeah, uptight as all hell. Which brings us back to the present.

"Aya," Ichiro sighs, "Do you know why you're here?"

I roll my eyes and lean back, resting my hands on the tatami. "Yes, Itchy," I say in a monotone, "This is my parole meeting. I know it, you know it, Momiji knows it." I jerk my thumb back at the wolf tengu who is watching the proceedings from behind me. The very same wolf who burned down my house with the help of a certain gatekeeper who shall go nameless (MEILING HONG), due to my oh-so-forgiving nature.

Bitch. Both of them.

Ichiro shrugs, ignoring my cute little name for him. Jerk. "Well, I suppose that's as good a name as any for it. Yes, we are here to determine whether or not you pose a continued threat to certain personages within the boundaries of Gensokyo."

I glare at him. "Itchy. I'm not interested in little girls. I've told you this. A lot."

"You also had a lot of pictures of Cirno in your house," Momiji pointlessly notes from behind me, like she has about a gazillion times at this point.

"Oh, come on!" I cry, unable to believe the injustice of it all, "I already told you guys! It was research material!"

"It was a godsdamned shrine, Aya!" the ignorant twit of a wolf shouts back. "I mean, sheesh! Pictures of the poor girl were everywhere! It was like you'd surrounded yourself with your obsession! No, you did surround yourself with your creepy obsession! I mean... don't you understand what we're worried about here?!"

I clear my throat and swivel to face Momiji, preparing a concise but descriptive speech in rebuttal to these totally uncalled for slanders to my honor. "I understand that you suck."

The white wolf groans and lowers her face into her hands in a clear and obvious admission of defeat. "I guess I should have expected that response."

I nod in satisfaction, when Ichiro bursts my moment of glory like the killjoy he is at heart. "Aya, this is exactly what we were worried about. You don't understand that you did something very wrong. How can we release you from custody when there is every chance that you will simply go back to this unwholesome pursuit of an innocent young girl?"

Okay. Enough of this. I'm setting the record straight, and I'm doing it right frickin' now. Swiveling to regard both the tightass and the twit (I'm not sure which is which and it doesn't matter), I clear my throat and regard them both as fiercely as I can.

It kinda hurts my eyes. Ouch.

"...Aya, why are you staring at us like that?" Momiji asks, looking a little weirded out. She must have sensed my pure conviction and is having doubts about her spurious claims already. Good job, me!

"I'm demonstrating my conviction!" I declare, and spring to my feet, pointing a finger of determination at both Ichiro and Momiji. "I, Aya Shameimaru, pure and honest journalist, and utter victim of a miscarriage of justice will now explain to you just why I am not, in fact, some kind of creepy pervert!"

Ichiro and Momiji look at me expectantly.

"It's because I'm not!" I declare.

They facepalm. Okay, not the response that I wanted, but I can recover! "Allow me to elaborate," I say, and take a moment to put my thoughts in order. "Okay, look. It's like this. Cirno was big news, right? Still is, from what little I've heard, but I'm talking, like, BIG big, you know what I mean? The freshness of something new?" The two cruel captors nod at my assessment. "Obviously, I'm gonna want to to report on something like that! It's as natural to me as... as booting intruders off the mountain is to you, Momi!" The wolf nods slowly at my assessment. "Or being a tightass is to Itchy here!" Ichiro groans and facepalms again. I ignore him.

"Okay, fine," Momiji says slowly, "I can buy that much, at least. But the pictures, Aya! You were stalking that poor girl!"

"I was demonstrating my appreciation to a fine, upstanding member of the community by giving her gifts that I thought she'd like, and benefiting the community in turn by taking pictures! I mean, you've seen her! She's adorable! How could I NOT take pictures of such a cutie?!" Really, sometimes I wonder about how bright Momiji is.

"The shrine of utter creepiness in your house, Aya," Momiji says flatly, giving me one of those looks. I hate those looks.

I gnash my teeth in irritation. Fine. I'll just come right out and say it. "I got carried away," I say through clenched teeth. "I admit it. Cirno was a source of big news, and also adorably cute, and I went too far. There, happy?!"

Momiji and Ichiro just stare at me in shock. Have they finally seen my pure spirit and the truth of the utter injustice heaped upon me?!

Momiji looks over at Ichiro. "She finally admitted that she was in the wrong," the wolf notes.

"A step in the right direction," my parole officer notes.


"Would you two give me a break, already?!" I shout in frustration. "Look, I'm sorry, okay?! I never meant to creep people out about Cirno! And I'm sorry that I kidnapped that darkness youkai, but I was gonna pay her back, and I needed her power to keep from being nabbed by patrols! And I never so much as touched her!"

"That's true," Ichiro notes, "According to Rumia's testimony, you only bored her to tears with what she termed 'endless yapping.'"

...Stupid darkness youkai. I give her a chance to be part of an amazing story, and that's how she repays me? Bah.

"Anyway, with Cirno, maybe I went too far, but it was all a matter of news and cuteness! Nothing more! I mean, I like cute things! Remember when Sanae showed me those adorable pictures of those kitty-cats with the misspelled words?" I giggle happily at the memory.

"Oh gods, don't remind me," Momiji groans, showing an appalling lack of appreciation for fine culture. "For months, you kept loading your newspaper full of pictures of cats with stupid captions."

"It was a nice change from the usual 'panty-parade' she put in the Bunbunmaru," Ichiro notes.

I plant my hands on my hips. "I will have you two know that the the 'laffy-cats' were downright hilarious, and underwear is relevant to the interests of many in Gensokyo, thank you very much! But never mind that. Momi, remember how obsessed I was with the laffy-kitties?"

"You posted pictures of them all over your house," Momiji sighs, "And yes, they did raise circulation for a while, and yes, you eventually dropped the whole thing when people lost interest."

"Only now my collection of laffy-kitties in ashes now, thanks to SOMEONE," I snap, glaring at my wolfy malefactor.

"All right, well, what about all of this talk about turning little Cirno into a woman, huh?" Momiji snaps back.

"Yes, that is at the core of our concerns," Ichiro agrees, giving me a serious look.

"I didn't mean it!" I wail, "I mean, that was just silly-talk! I'd never touch someone that young. Well, not young chronologically, but you know what I mean! Way younger than me, anyway. What I mean is, I wasn't seriously gonna do stuff to Cirno or anything! I just wanted to hang around her cuz she's so darned cute, and a huge draw for readers, to boot! That's all, serious!"

Traitorous Momiji gives me a skeptical look, then glances over at Ichiro. "Well, what do you think?"

Ichiro frowns. "Honestly? I believe her. We've been carefully prodding Aya's reactions, and she shows no particular attraction to people below a certain age."

"That's because I'm not a creepy pervert!" I protest.

"Just a garden-variety pervert, huh?" Momiji asks with a sigh. I do not deign to answer her. It's not my fault that I like to experiment, dammit! "Still, I guess that I can believe her. It was always a little hard to take that Aya could conceivably do... that sort of thing." She gives me a strange look that gives me an unpleasant twinge. Momi actually looks kinda... disappointed? Relieved? A little of both?

"Well, am willing to accept that Aya does not pose a threat to Cirno in particular, or youthful people in general," Ichiro says with a nod.

"Thank you," I say, with a pleased nod. At last, vindication!

"This does not change the fact, however, that she has done nearly irreparable damage to her own reputation, and tarnished that of the tengu in general," Ichiro adds, giving me a cool look.

"Eheheh... oops?" I offer. Admittedly, sneaking into Cirno's room and taking pictures of her sleeping was maybe, just maybe, a teensy tiny bit too much.

"Beyond that, Miss Shameimaru, you are currently poorly able to support yourself, given the loss of your home and the collapse of your newspaper," Ichiro adds.

I slump to the floor at this words. "My paaaapeeeerrrrrr...." I moan, feeling a sense of deep loss. My poor Bunbunmaru, my baby, my pride and joy! Torn away and left to rot, all due to people not understanding my pure journalistic spirit!

...Well, fine. I guess I kinda sorta went overboard on the Cirno thing, and maybe kinda had it coming. Just a bit. But still! For a sweet young maiden's pride and joy to be torn away like that! It's heartbreaking beyond belief, I tell you!

I weep pitiably to myself, no doubt a heartbreaking scene that would move anyone to pity. At least, aside from bitchy Momi who's looking away in disgust, and unflappable Itchy who still doesn't have a fucking facial expression. Seriously, dude, just try smiling once in your life! It's a good workout for those facial muscles!

"...That being said, I have an idea that I've already run by Lord Tenma," Ichiro muses, looking off into the distance, "One that would allow you to regain your reputation, and restore your newspaper to its former glory. One that would give you an opportunity to restore your personal means, and do a great favor for the tengu, and a certain other as well."

"Yeah, yeah, you can do mysterious and vague, I gotcha," I say, wiping my face and standing up. "So... let's hear it, then. What's this big and mysterious plan, already?"

Ichiro looks at me consideringly. "It involves Hina Kagiyama, the goddess of misfortune."

Say what now?

"Lady Kagiyama?" Momiji remarks, "I had heard that Lord Tenma himself had been to speak with her."

"Yes," Ichiro says, when a miracle happens. He gets an expression on his face. AN HONEST TO GODS FACIAL EXPRESSION.

Where's my camera?! This is a code red emergency! This can only mean that the apocalypse is coming! And more to the point: "I say again, Itchy: what about Hina?"

Ichiro looks up at me with a troubled look on his face (SERIOUSLY, FACIAL EXPRESSION HOLY SHIT). "Have you read the story on Pleasant Meadows?"

A chill runs down my spine at the name. "Yeah. I mean, I don't normally read Hatate's paper..." stupidshutinupstartstealingmyscenewhothehelldoesshethinksheisanyway "...But Momiji pretty much forced it on me, and I read the whole things like, five times. My opinion? Holy shit."

"That's the general opinion," Ichiro agrees. "What concerns us more, however, is Lady Kagiyama's assessment of us and our actions, and her own rather... extreme... reaction."

"You mean how people kept bitching her out and making her feel like shit every time she figured she'd move somewhere that she'd probably get more worshipers?" I ask. "I mean, you guys didn't notice? Poor girl was getting to the point where she glared daggers every time a tengu went by her place."

Momiji and Ichiro just stare at me, stunned. I just snort. Stupid ultra-conservative culture. An old neighbor decides they want to move somewhere nicer, and all of a sudden, so much bitching! Honestly, it's no wonder the poor girl snapped. I really feel for her, she must feel like crap.

"Well... yes," Ichiro admits, coughing a little bit. "In any case, Lord Tenma feels that we tengu had a part to play in Lady Kagiyama's breakdown."

"You mean the part where we basically drove her into the arms of a psychopath, because she was just so bitter over how lousy the tengu were treating her?" I roll my eyes. "Sheesh, and Hina's supposed to be our ally! No wonder everyone thinks that we're all a bunch of jerks!"

Momiji and Ichiro stare at me again. "You are simultaneously the densest and most perceptive person that I know," Momi says wonderingly. "It's both incredibly fascinating and incredibly weird."

Feh. Wolves just don't get it.

Ichiro clears his throat again. "Well, regardless, it's quite clear that we tengu were inadvertently a part of this nightmare, and it seems that Lady Kagiyama is still less than enthused with us, which does not reflect well upon the tengu people. Even her meeting with Lord Tenma was very terse and to the point. Whatever her own actions, it doesn't change the fact that Lady Kagiyama feels that we have been holding her back, and otherwise making her life miserable. And really... we may very well have."

"Yeah, we totally are," I say simply. "We've been pushing her around for years, and she snapped. If we would just stay out of her way for once, she'd probably be loads happier. That's what I've always said, but no one ever listens to me." I sigh dramatically, conveying my utter contempt for the conservative establishment. "And the elders all have sticks up their butts. Big ones. As opposed to your moderate-sized one, Itchy, but I can tell that you're working on it 24-7." To hell with The Man, always keeping pure and honest journalists down!

Ichiro sighs and presses on. "With that in mind, Aya... we want you to help Lady Kagiyama."


"Huh?" I stare blankly.

"Your reputation is in shambles," Ichiro continues, "But your skills are unquestioned. We want you to put those skills to good use for once, and help Hina Kagiyama become a respected, notable figure in Gensokyo. At the very least, get people to stop fearing her as a bringer of misfortune, and come to see her as a bringer of blessings, a being who takes bad luck away. In so doing, you will have an opportunity to prove to the world that you have learned from your past transgressions, and can thereby burst back onto the scene, as it were." He raises an eyebrow. "What do you say?"

My head is spinning. Holy crap. That's just... just...

[ ] I accept completely!
[ ] I accept, but with these conditions! (specify)
[ ] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?
[x] I accept completely!

Helping Hina? Sign me up for this.
[x] I accept completely!
[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?
Hooray, more Keyverse!

[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?
[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?
A note for anyone stumbling upon keymaster for the first time: His stories share a continuity, and Aya in particular has been effected. This scenario relies a bit on context provided in Being Meling, and pleasant meadows has also made a couple of notable changes to the status quo.

I suggest at minimum reading Being Meling and the epilogue to meadows(which contains heavy spoilers for both, obviously) if you want to catch up on those changes, though this ruins the latter so if you have any interest in that at all read it from the beginning.
[X] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[X] Where's my camera?
[X] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?

I am very okay with this turn of events.
[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
[x] Wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?

Part three of Keymasters stories? FUCK YEAH!

Here's some summarized notes for people who suck and are too lazy to read good stories even when the links are right there. Seriously, if you read my scribbles here you are bad and should feel bad.
Obviously spoilers.

Being Meiling: Cirno creates a suit of ice-powered armor and become something of a super hero. This is major news and Aya becomes creepy obsessed with Cirno to the point that she's arrested and Momiji and Meiling burn her house down because she has pictures of Cirno everywhere, many of them were implied to be of a more questionable nature. Thus Aya's current situation.

Don't read these spoilers if you are in any way interested in reading the story of Pleasant Meadows. While Being Meiling is a rather mellow story, this one is much more dramatic, and thus spoiling it is more of A Big Deal.

The Pleasant Meadows incident: Yukari decides to throw a little party with alcohol, bathing and man-whores hired male companionship at a resort called Pleasant Meadows, inviting quite a lot of various Touhous. It turns into a survival horror murder mystery weekend, with people disappearing and messages written in blood after each one.
In the end it was revealed that Rinnosuke was behind it. He had created a plan for a major powergrab by kidnapping and brainwashing Yuyuko and her guests. Hina was an accomplice to this, without knowing the true depth of Rinnosuke's evil plans otherwise she wouldn't have agreed. This was because Rinnosuke used her discontent at being feared for bringing misfortune when she actually just wants to take it away. She had repeatedly tried to move from Youkai Mountain to resolve this situation, but the Tengu were being ultra-conservative about it and pretty much forbid her from upsetting their little status quo.
In the end, things were resolved, everyone got rescued, the butler at Pleasant Meadows got quantum-cloned and is now dating both Shikieiki and Parsee and nobody lived happily ever after because shit like that leaves scars, you know. But they deal with it.
Still, Hina really feels like shit for being responsible for the trauma everyone (including herself, so she knows exactly how bad it was) were put through.
So that's why the Tengu have realized that they may be indirectly responsible for that whole mess and now want to make it up to Hina for putting her in that situation to begin with.

I think that should sum up everything that you really need to know to understand the situation, but it's obviously better to read the stories.
[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?

I'd like to know if there will be restrictions on what we can a d cannot do, how they want us to do it, and what resources are at our disposal.
[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
-[x] Can I recruit Cirno to help?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?

More Keymaster? It would appear that much celebration is in order.

Simply put, your writing is consistently good, and I look forward to more of it. Thank you for writing.

>Can I recruit Cirno to help?

...Why do you hate Aya so much?
[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
-[x] Can I recruit Cirno to help?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?
[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?

Asking to recruit Cirno sounds like a terrible idea, let's not.

>get recently accused of being a pedophile
>undergo months of strenuous examinations and reformations
>get given a chance to prove your reformation
>immediately go after the target of your suspected pedophiliac tendencies

Yeah, no.

[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?


[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?
[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
-[x] Can I recruit Cirno to help?
-[x] No wait! Don't break out the cuffs! I can explain!

This whole reason for this is to try to make it up to Hina for being asshole and stopping her from moving away. Just sending Aya, who everyone thinks is a unrepentant pervert of the worst kind, will probably send the wrong message and make things worse. Bringing Cirno in will help prevent her from being offended and would give Aya a chance to apologize to Cirno.
[x] I accept, but with these conditions!
-[x] Where's my camera?
--[x] Don't do what >>22786 and >>22789 voted for.
---[x] In fact, try to stay as far away from Cirno as possible.
[x] Wait, wait, what am I supposed to do exactly?
>>22794 here.

I didn't see >>22793 (due to not refreshing the page before posting)...but I don't think that's a good idea either as I'm not sure they'd let Aya explain herself at this point.
FYI, 'negative' votes are frowned upon. If you don't want to do what he wants, then vote something else. If that isn't enough for you, then start a discussion.

I'm pretty sure this isn't about negative votes so much as making it clear they are not voting for Cirno option. Many writers will combine similar or non-mutally exclusive votes into one option. In this case, people are voting to exclude that option from a theoretical combination update.
File 137848838583.jpg - (730.43KB, 800x1066, hello new friend.jpg) [iqdb]
"I accept completely and without any trace of reservation!" I yell out as soon as my brain starts working again. This is... perfect! A chance at freedom! To fly the skies openly once more! To pick myself up off the ground, dust myself off, and be a success again! A chance to finally not have to listen to other tengu lecturing me relentlessly!

I mean seriously, I get it already, shut the hell up!

Ichiro nods approvingly. "Excellent. I was hoping you'd see reason-"

"With that said, however, I do have one condition!" I interrupt as something of true and utter importance occurs to me.

Ichiro pauses mid-sentence and sighs. "Of course you do. What would it be, then?"

I lock eyes with him, my heart burning with determination as I speak the question that has troubled me since being dragged back in for the second time. "Where. Is. My. Camera?!" I demand.

Ichiro rolls his eyes. "I should have known that you would ask that." He reaches into his desk and rustles around for a little bit before drawing out the most beautiful sight that I have seen in a very long time. "We hid it away after you broke loose for the Hakurei-Scarlet wedding, but I thought you might have use for it again-"

I don't let him finish, instead just yanking the camera out of his hands and cuddling it to my chest lovingly. "Ahhhhh~, my camera!" I sigh happily. Pure, rock-solid Nitori-tech, with all the bells and whistles I could ever want.

Well, okay, maybe Hatate's phone has a few more functions. But seriously, screw her. You just can't bet the classics.

I happily nuzzle my camera for a few minutes, overjoyed at being reunited with it, while Momiji and Ichiro just stare at me in what I assume to be utter jealousy. That's right, this is my camera! Not yours, mine! Only a magnificent reporter such as I could possibly hope to use it to its full potential! And we'll have lots of fun with Hina, won't we, little guy?

...Actually, that brings up a good point.

"Say, what exactly am I supposed to be doing?" I ask my gaping parole officer. "I mean, 'Help Hina,' is pretty vague, y'know?"

"True," Ichiro agrees, pondering. "Put it like this: we want you to use your skills to improve Lady Kagiyama's public relations. Help her to improve her image as a goddess, and come to be regarded as a benefit to Gensokyo, a deity that takes away ill luck rather than as a harbinger of misfortune. Basically, your job will be that of an image counselor. Use your skills to spread the good word about Lady Kagiyama, and try to improve her standing in the land. Use whatever means you feel are necessary, as long as she is willing to work with it. Remember, Lady Kagiyama took the actions she did because she felt bullied by we tengu; don't make the same mistake."

"Pshaw!" I scoff, "I, Aya Shameimaru, am way more charming, and much better at making friends than any other tengu! Just you wait and see, Hina and I will be as close as sisters by the end of the week, and I'll make her the biggest thing that Gensokyo's ever known!"

"Just stay away from Cirno," Momiji says flatly. "We want you to keep at least 100 meters between you and her at all times."

"...What if she comes up to me?" I wonder.

"In the unlikely event that this happens, just pray that she doesn't want to stomp you. Cirno doesn't exactly like you, you know." Momiji says these cold, cruel words in a tone icier than the little fairy's coldest attack.

"How mean!" I wail, "What have I done to Cirno that could ever make her think so poorly of me?!" I hesitate. "Actually, don't answer that."

"At least you aren't totally oblivious," Momiji sighs.

I mull it over for a moment. "Okay, so I get my job here, and I have a few ideas to boost Hina's image already, but I have a very important question! Given that my house was destroyed, and all I have now are a few changes of clothes, where do I sleep now?"

Momiji shrugs. "Well, I guess I can put you up at my place for a little while..."

"No," I say flatly. "No, no way, nuh-uh, no how, not gonna happen. There is no way in all the hells that I am staying in the village so that a bunch of other tengu can look down their noses at me. Besides, this place is boring as all hell."

"It's not that bad," Ichiro protests.

"Yes it is. Momiji, back me up." I look over at the white wolf, who looks back at me and Ichiro awkwardly before coughing and looking away. I nod, taking this as an admission that I'm right. "See what I mean, Itchy? I'd rather just camp out, or get Hina to give me a room."

"Given that the Lady of Misfortune is rather disenchanted with us as a people at the moment, I find it unlikely that she will give you room and board," Ichiro notes, the pessimist. "But so be it. I'll leave it to you to find your own accommodations. The tengu will also give you a small stipend to help you in your efforts; let us know if you require any further resources for expenses."

I nod. "So... am I good to go? I can leave?"

Ichiro looks at me for a long moment, then nods. "Yes. Given that you have accepted our terms, Aya Shameimaru, I hereby declare that under tengu law, by the authority if the great Lord Tenma, and under my own judgement as your rehabilitation overseer, you are now paroled. I wish to meet with you once per week for an update on your progress; beyond that, you are free to leave any time that you wish-"

I'm out the door and into the sky before he's even finished talking.






Ahahahahahahaha, at last! I'm outta that crummy joint, and away from those stuffy supervisors! Goodbye, stuffy village, hello bright blue open skies! Goodbye, exhausting manual labor and counseling sessions, hello freedom and awesome job!

Pure and honest Aya Shameimaru is back, Gensokyo!

So many things to do, so much to get caught up on! I have to see what the married couple is up to, see how things have changed in the human village, interview the survivors of the Pleasant Meadows incident-

No. No, no, no, Aya. Wrong. Painful as it may be to admit, I did a very bad thing that got me in a lot of trouble. Though it agonizes me, I have to regard my precious Bunbunmaru, the one true purveyor of the Truth in Gensokyo, to be temporarily defunct. I have a job, and that's to get a beautiful, sexy goddess the respect she deserves! And through her, regain the respect that I deserve!

It'll be symbiotic, or something! I'll help out Hina, and thus help out me, too! It'll work for everyone! Especially when I make everyone realize just how stupid the tengu justice system is, and how badly I was wronged!

That's right, and then I can rebuild my newspaper, and shove how much better it is down Hatate's throat!

Well, that's for later, anyway. Right now, I can see Hina's place, so I might as well go introduce myself. A flick of my wings, and I propel myself out of the glorious, open sky and down into Hina's front yard. Honestly, the place looks a bit... abandoned. Japanese-style shrine, with a small building out back for supplies, and some signs that the kappa have built in some modern amenities. Probably Nitori, I think she and Hina get along pretty well.

Really, it looks like Hina maintains this place better than Reimu does her shrine. Or used to, anyway; last I heard, Remilia was sending fairy maids over there to help keep the place cleaned up. No, this shrine looks more... forgotten. Like the resident makes sure to keep it as pristine as she can, but no one bothers to visit her anyway.

Yeah. It's that cute little shrine that's clean, but nobody ever visits it, so the owner eventually decides that she doesn't care what it looks like as long as the paint isn't peeling. It's a home, but I have a hard time seeing it as a place of worship.

...Maybe I should offer the poor Goddess a hug? How long has it been since she seriously felt like she could get followers?

Well, never mind that! I'm here to turn that all around, baby! Marching confidently up to the front door, I knock and wait to be answered. After about a minute, the door opens to reveal the lovely Miss Kagiyama herself. Dazzling green eyes, shining green hair, lovely figure, snappy dress sense... honestly, I'm surprised that men aren't throwing themselves at her feet on first sight! Seriously, does no one in Gensokyo have any taste in women?

I mean, damn, this woman is sexy as all hell.

The Goddess of Misfortune's eyes widen slightly when she sees me, then narrow into a guarded expression. Defensive attitude against the tengu, check. "Hello, can I help you?" Hina asks politely.

[ ] Introduce self politely.
[ ] Introduce self enthusiastically.
[ ] Baby, I'm here to rock your world.
[x] Introduce self enthusiastically.

Hina's had enough of "polite," Show her some honesty!
[x] Introduce self enthusiastically.
[x]Introduce self enthusiastically.

[x] Introduce self enthusiastically.
-[x] Mention you want to join her church

Praise Hina and her sexyness!
[x] Baby, I'm here to rock your world.

AYA SHAMEIMARU, ACE REPORTER doesn't do anything by halves.
[x] Baby, I'm here to rock your world.
[x]Introduce self enthusiastically.
[x] Introduce self enthusiastically.
-[x] Mention you want to join her church.

If anyone has misfortune to ged rid of right now, it's Aya.
Most of it she brought on herself, but misfortune is misfortune and a shunned and almost forgotten Goddess can't be too picky.
Besides, if she can point to a reformed Aya and say "Look, I helped fix her. She's a good a decent not a terrible person anymore", that's probably a bigger boost to her image than anything Aya can actually do herself.
[x] Baby, I'm here to rock your world.

All the other tengu are stuffy and overbearing. What better way to show we're not than to be ludicrously over-the-top in the other direction?

She'll be dazzled! She'll be amazed! She'll probably call for the police but I don't care!
[x] Introduce self enthusiastically.
-[x] Mention you want to join her church.

It's funny, I usually try to base my votes on what option I think is correct. Or barring that, what option won't bite us in the ass. Problem is with Aya every option will end up biting her in the ass in some way, shape, or form.

Oh well. Might as well ride this trainwreck all the way home.
[x] Introduce self enthusiastically.
-[x] Mention you want to join her church.
[x] Introduce self enthusiastically
Muahaha, this will be good.
[X] Introduce self enthusiastically.
[X] Keep yourself in check.

So. I'm I the only one that thinks she's already developing the same thing that happened with Cirno? I.E.

>I mean, damn, this woman is sexy as all hell.
[x] Baby, I'm here to rock your world.

This choice was made for me.
[X] Introduce self enthusiastically.
Out of curiosity, if we had gone Hina Route in your last story, would Alfred be here to snark at us?
>I mean, damn, this woman is sexy as all hell.

Judging by this and KM's previous stories I'm going to be surprised if Hina and Aya aren't married, or at least engaged, by the end of this.
She wouldn't need Aya in the first place, I'd wager.

[x] Introduce self enthusiastically.
-[x] Mention you want to join her church
With Aya's misfortune, we can keep her happy for a century-or more
Being Meiling had a great ending. As had No Escape. Well, endings. I am pretty much fine with either.
[X] Introduce self enthusiastically.
>good stories
Does Being Meiling level out latter? The first two threads at least were fucking awful.

Honestly, I only came up with the idea for this story well after Hina had been eliminated. So I'd probably be doing something entirely different with Aya.


Well, if you didn't like the first couple of threads, the story probably won't be your cup of tea. Thanks for giving it a shot at least, though.

Anyway, the voting seems clear, so I might try putting together an update.
File 137858390523.jpg - (169.88KB, 850x708, the hell do you want.jpg) [iqdb]
I grin broadly at the green-haired, spinning goddess. Time for introductions! I strike a dramatic pose, fist raised high triumphantly and wings spread wide. I make sure that I have my most charming smile plastered all over my face. First impressions are extremely important, after all!

"I am Aya Shameimaru, pure an honest reporter of the Truth, and the greatest journalist that Gensokyo has ever known!" I declare, letting my righteous spirit burn brightly. "I have recently been exonerated from the spurious claims that ruined my reputation, and have once more left the tengu village to spread truth and knowledge all across this great land of ours! Hina Kagiyama!" I point at her face, driving my intent home with my eyes hands, and voice, "I have come here to help you rebuild your image, and become a magnificent goddess beloved by all in our noble land."

My voice echoes a little bit as my loud proclamation bounces off the mountain slopes. That's right, world! With Aya Shameimaru on the job, Hina Kagiyama is gonna be the biggest name that Gensokyo has ever known!

Hina just stares at me slack-jawed, clearly blown away and moved beyond words at my declaration of loyalty. That's right, Hina baby, this tengu reporter is gonna make you a star!

Then she slams the door in my face.


Not the response I was expecting.

A little nonplussed by this response, I rap on her door again. "Hello~?" I call out, "Hina baby? Lovely Lady of Misfortune? The answer to all of your problems is standing outside and wants to talk to you!"

"That's funny, I could have sworn it was you outside," Hina's voice mutters from the other side of the door.

"Aw, c'moooonnnn," I plead with her, "Don't shut me out just because the rest of my people are a bunch of stuck-up jerks! I'm different! I'm cool, and open-minded, and a bunch of other neat stuff!"

The door slides open a little bit. "I heard you were arrested for indecent behavior over young girls," Hina comments, looking at me with a raised eyebrow.

GODSDAMN IT. Is that gonna follow me around forever?! "That was a total misunderstanding!" I wail, "Cirno was big news, and cute besides that, and I just go a little carried away! I admit that I was wrong, and want to make up for my prior poor judgement! I'm here to help you, so come on, already! Give me a chance? Pleeeaaassse?" I clasp my hands and bounce on my feet a little bit, the very picture of a supplicant.

Hina opens her door a little more, looking hesitant, and still a little bit suspicious. Well, I guess I can understand that. Between the clobbering my rep has taken, and her prior experiences with tengu, she likely doesn't have a lot of faith in me at first sight.

Hmmm... supplicant, eh? That gives me an idea!

"Evidently, I have to prove myself worthy of your attention," I note, kicking off my geta. "Fair enough! Then, Hina Kagiyama, would you accept this lonely, humble tengu of pure and utter awesomeness into your church?"

Hina's eyes widen in surprise. "Wh-what?" she stammers.

Smiling, I raise one of my stocking-clad feet off of her front porch and kick off, spinning as gracefully as I can on her front porch. As Hina stares at me in astonishment, I sigh dramatically. "Ahhhh, I've had so much misfortune lately! If only there was a goddess who would accept my prayers and faith and take all of this misfortune away from me! All of this heaping, swirling misfortune, that burdens me, making my life so unbearable..."

Uh-oh, dizzy! Really dizzy! Not used to moving like this! Staggering suddenly, I lose my balance all fall flat on my eyes, head spinning. Hazily, I look up at Hina, and see that the goddess herself is breathing heavily, eyes slightly glazed and a hand to her heaving chest. She looks like she's savoring the very taste of the air. Enjoying my misfortune? Or enjoying the act of devotion I just demonstrated? To my knowledge, that little bit of spinning should count as a prayer.

Hina looks down at me, still panting with pleasure. "Y-you... you're... that taste!"

I smile sweetly. "How unfortunate that I should lose my balance while trying to impress a goddess, no? If only someone would take away such misfortune, and maybe teach me the proper way to show my devotion...?" I let the question hang in the air for a moment.

Hina stares down at me, jaw working, as she tries to get a hold of her breathing. Finally, she takes a finally deep breath and nods reluctantly. "Fine," she sighs, "Please come in and I'll see what I can do for you. Just leave your shoes to the side of the door, all right?" Hina holds the door open wide and gestures me in, before hesitating and offering me a hand up.

I smile triumphantly and take her hand. Score!


I watch in fascination as Hina does her thing in front of me. First, she had sat me down, giving me some tea, while she stood over me and held her hands over my head, gradually sliding them all over my body without actually touching me. Just holding her hands an inch or two over me while she closed her eyes and concentrated, occasionally breathing in deeply. After a moment, Hina nodded to herself and retrieved a featureless doll setting it on a stool between the two of us and piercing the body with a couple of long needles. She had asked me for two of my feathers, and I had complied, pulling them out of each of my wings. Hina had then affixed these two the doll like a pair of miniature wings. Rule of sympathy, or something? I'm not exactly up on magical theory.

Then, she had stepped back and started to spin. Slowly, gracefully, and with absolute precision. Eyes closed, face holding a serene expression, arms to the side as though floating, she was a vision of majestic beauty as her ribbons trailed out behind her.

Her skirt keeps flying up as she spins, too! If she'd only spin a little faster, I might be able to catch a glimpse of something sweet~! Alas, this does not happen. How unfortunate!

Hina does not react as I think this. Maybe she has a different definition of misfortune than I do? I'll have to ask her about that. Still, as she spins, I have to admit that I feel a lot better. Like a heavy weight is being lifted from me. Damn, I wish that I'd come to visit this woman a lot earlier! This feels great!

Finally, Hina slows to a stop and faces me. She looks extremely satisfied. "There. You had a lot of misfortune, but it should be cleared up about now," the goddess of misfortune tells me.

I give her a broad smile. "Was it good for you?" I ask, raising my eyebrows suggestively.

She is distinctly unimpressed. "Don't push it, tengu," Hina says icily.

"Ouch," I say with a wince, "Don't hold back on my account or anything."

Hina just sighs, looking defeated. "How is your tea? Would you like some more?"

"Ah, sure! Then, maybe we could talk business?" I ask hopefully. Hina nods, and walks off to refill the kettle. A few minutes later, we are sipping tea together at her table, with a somewhat less than cozy atmosphere. She just keeps watching me warily, as though uncertain as to why I'm here. I guess I can understand that, though. I mean, given her experiences with my people and all. Probably thinks I'm actually here to oppress her, or throw aspersions upon her character, or make baseless accusation, or do any of the other horrible things elders are known to do.

I have first-hand knowledge of just how cruel the tengu elders can be. So we're like kindred spirits, in a way! Hmmm, I should bring that up with her...

Crap, this atmosphere is way too tense! I gotta do something to dispel it! Okay, pretend this is an interview, get her talking, get some nice conversation going to break the ice! Yeah.

What to ask...?

Pick two:

[ ] Ask about her problems with the tengu.
[ ] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.
[ ] Compliment her spinning.
[ ] Ask about that thing that happened with Rinnosuke.
[ ] Ask about her plans for the future.
[ ] How is she doing, personally?
Wow. This is hard. Metagaming (or even basic common sense) says not to ask about the incident, but I really doubt Aya has to tact not to. Fuck it.

[X] Ask about that thing that happened with Rinnosuke.
[X] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.
[X] Ask about her problems with the tengu.
[X] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Compliment her spinning.
[x] How is she doing, personally?

Jeez, how do you learn to spin like that?! Don't you get dizzy?!

Be friendly, enthusiatic and lovable. First we need to break the tension, and then we should ask her how she is. We should avoid the other questions at first so we don't seem like we're treating her as a problem to deal with. We can ask all the other questions once she's opened up to us a little bit.

>Pick Two
[X] Ask about her plans for the future.
[X] How is she doing, personally?
[x] Compliment her spinning.
[x] How is she doing, personally?

Let's get to know her first and the rest will come later.
[x] Compliment her spinning.
[x] How is she doing, personally?
[x] Compliment her spinning.
[x] How is she doing, personally?

Nothing too personal and probing yet. Just make her feel relaxed and comfortable.
[x] Compliment her spinning.
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Compliment her spinning.
[x] How is she doing, personally?
File 137866699758.jpg - (209.02KB, 850x850, its a rough life.jpg) [iqdb]
Well, the best way to open up a potentially awkward negotiation is to compliment the other person, right? Say something nice about them, their hair, their clothes, their whatever characteristic that really happens to stand out to you- spinning! That's it! Just say something nice about her spinning thingy!

"So, that spinning thing that you do?" I speak up, "Pretty cool, that! I mean, it's really graceful and mesmerizing how you do it!"

"Oh, thank you," Hina says, looking up from her tea with a faint smile. "I know that a lot of people look at it as being something strange, but it's something very innate to me. It's as much a part of me as... well, as flying would be to you."

I nod in understanding. I'm totally with her on this one.

"So yeah," I continue, "When you spin like that, you look really serene, you know? It's like you don't have a single care in the world, no problems or anything. You look as peaceful as a monk in meditation, or somebody taking a warm bath, or... any of that stuff, really."

"It is very peaceful for me," Hina agrees. "When I spin like that, there's a purpose to it. You see, those rotations put me in contact with the natural rotation of the planet. Many things travel in circles, and cycles. My spinning puts me in harmony with these natural cycles."


"Anyway, beyond that, my spinning turns me into a sort of natural vortex. Due to my nature, misfortune and other ill energies are naturally drawn into me where they can be neutralized." Hina gestures to one of the green spiral designs on my dress. "The choice of a spiral as my symbol is not coincidental. It reflects unclean energies being drawn to a center, me, and being purified. I like to think that the green is a reflection of my hair color." She giggles a bit at this.

Hair color. Right.

"Anyway, when I spin like that, I really do feel at one with the natural world." She sighs. "There are no suspicions or doubts. There is just me, at one with nature, fulfilling a vital role and making the world a better place." Hina shrugs. "I guess you could call it the prayer of a goddess to the world. There's a sense of communion with something greater whenever I do that. The movements themselves give me peace. Besides, it's kind of fun!" The ribbon-wearing deity giggles a little bit.

It's fun. Gotcha. Fascinating.

Hina sips her tea. "You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you Miss Shameimaru?"

"...No," I admit, wincing a little bit. "Sorry. I'm pretty good at working out connections and interpersonal affairs, but mystical stuff like that is beyond me."

"As a tengu, I find that surprising," she tells me. "After all, your people have a great deal of innate magic, don't they?"

I shrug. "Well, yeah, but everyone breathes, but not everybody knows all of the mechanics of how they breathe, you know what I mean? It's kinda the same thing. I have magic, but it just... works, somehow."

Hina mulls it over. "I guess I can understand that."

"But that doesn't mean that what you do isn't cool or anything!" I hasten to add. "I mean... it's pretty, you know?" I nod confidently. "Yeah. Real pretty! I wish I could do it too. I mean, how on earth do you just keep spinning around like that without getting dizzy?"

Hina smiles, looking faintly pleased. "Well, there's a trick to keeping your equilibrium. I could show it to you... but that would require you to be a follower of mine, and as I recall the tengu already have their spiritual needs met." She glances out a window at the slope of the mountain, no doubt thinking of the Moriya shrine.

I just snort. "Please. I pay Kanako and Suwako the respect they're due, but first of all, I'm not exactly a model tengu, you know what I mean? And second, we may offer them worship, but it's more like they forced their way into being our gods. As far as I'm concerned, I'm a free agent!" I pause. "Who has to report in weekly, but still!"

Hina chuckles a little at this and says nothing. Still, I see the faint signs of a smile tugging at the sides of her mouth. Progress! I'm slowly but surely getting through to her! Next up: establishing a rapport!

"So, how are you doing, personally?" I ask, taking another gulp of tea. Pretty innocuous question, right? Just a general inquiry into the health of another person.

Hina's blank stare tells me that I may have stepped on a land-mine here.

"Well, where to begin?" the goddess of misfortune says with a sigh. "First of all, I am a being with a great affection for humanity. I crave their belief above all else. They see me as a nightmarish harbinger of ill-luck, and want nothing to do with me. That's the first thing wrong." She takes a sip of tea. "Secondly, every single time that I've tried to leave this mountain to try and do something about my rotten reputation, your people have knocked on my door and effectively brow-beaten me into remaining put, lest I 'abandon my duty' or whatever nonsense they're pushing." Her voice gets more and more heated as she continues to speak.

Okay, that was a bad idea. Danger zone! Eyes flashing with anger! This is a very, very bad place to be right now! Prepare for emergency evacuation!

And then all of Hina's energy seems to go out of her as she slumps lifelessly in her chair. "And to top it off, I let my bitterness get the better of me, and got duped into committing an absolutely horrible act. Nobody's even come to talk to me about it. I figure that they just don't want to see my face. Not that I can blame them."

The goddess of misfortune closes her eyes. "And that's where I stand. I'm a forgotten, despised goddess who only gets by through feeding off of her own misfortune. And the one time I tried to really break free of my situation, people got hurt. That's how I'm doing, Miss Shameimaru. And I don't even have the right to feel sorry for myself anymore." Her eyes close, and Hina sits there quietly, looking utterly defeated.

...Oh, man. This is even worse than I thought. Whenever I saw Hina before this, she was always smiling, and full of life. She was hiding this burden all along? Feeling that the very people she loved were disgusted by her? Feeling trapped, and hopeless? And now there's huge amounts of guilt on top of all that.

Is this what Lord Tenma saw when he spoke to Hina? I heard that he met with her a while back, but never spoke of what happened at the meeting. But if this is what he saw, no wonder the Great Lord himself wants to help the poor woman! Especially if he had something to do with it.

Arrgh, this atmosphere is way to much of a downer! I've gotta so something to raise her spirits, quick!

[ ] Pray to Hina.
[ ] Singing/dancing tengu!
[ ] Let's try spinning again!
[ ] Make her something to eat!
[ ] Write-in!
[x] Singing/dancing tengu!
[x] Let's try spinning again!
[x] Make her something to eat!

Operation "Cheer up the goddess" is a go!
[x] Take her to see Byakuren. She's supposed to love everyone, right? Besides, if anybody'd know about being misunderstood it's her.
[X] Pray to Hina.
[x] Singing/dancing tengu!
[x] Let's try spinning again!
[x] Make her something to eat!
[X] Pray to Hina.
[x] Take her to see Byakuren. She's supposed to love everyone, right? Besides, if anybody'd know about being misunderstood it's her.

Sounds fun. I'm not sure we've ever actually seen Byakuren.

[x] Singing/dancing tengu!
[x] Let's try spinning again!
[x] Make her something to eat!

You have my sword fan.
[x] "What if I told you it didn't have to be that way....."
-[x] "I'm here to do everything within my power to get you out of this rut and make sure people see you as the friendly fortune granting goddess you are."

This girl needs solutions to her problems not hijinks. Let's get to the point so we can start the semi-productive hilarity.
[x] Singing/dancing tengu!
[x] Let's try spinning again!
[x] Make her something to eat!

So... We sing and dance while doing some more spins? (Which, in a way, would be a prayer to Hina. Trying to emulate the divine in order to reach a closer rapport with it, or something like that.)
Meaning we will express our devotion to our new Goddess through song and interpretive dance. Which involves a lot of spinning.

And then we cook some food, because doing all these great, helpful, unselfish deeds with no hidden agenda what-so-ever sure makes you hungry, you know?
Can't improve an image on an empty stomach.

Aya's solutions to problems are hijinks!
Because Aya totally follows the rules about what to ask, right?

[x] Singing/dancing tengu!
[x] Let's try spinning again!
[x] Make her something to eat!
[x] Singing/dancing tengu!
[x] Let's try spinning again!
[x] Make her something to eat!
[x] Panic!
[x] Singing/dancing tengu!
[x] Let's try spinning again!
[x] Make her something to eat!

In Being Meiling, Byakuren made one brief appearance in the wedding arc. She was also briefly referred to when Eirin and Kanako were having a spat.
[x] Singing/dancing tengu!
[x] Let's try spinning again!
[x] Make her something to eat!


Getting your subject back into a good mood is the first step to finding solutions. Besides, I really can't see Aya trying the whole serious angle.

Not that she isn't serious about what she does, but still.
[x] Let's try spinning again!
- [x] Let's try CONVERSING while spinning again!

This could only end hilariously.
I think the difference you're talking about is between being serious and actually acting serious.
[x] Singing/dancing tengu!
[x] Let's try spinning again!
[x] Make her something to eat!
[X] Pray to Hina.
[X] Singing/dancing tengu!

I think these two options would be the most effective.
Blargh. Today sucked. I need to write a little to blow off some steam. So, vote called for singing/dancing/spinning/cooking tengu!

Update very unlikely to be up tonight. Maybe tomorrow, Wednesday at the latest.
File 137877824649.png - (430.40KB, 531x637, what are you doing.png) [iqdb]
Actually, this is surprisingly good stress-relief. Huh.


I've got it! A while back, Sanae played this song for me that was all the rage on the outside world! Even showed me the lyrics; they were translated because the song was in a foreign language, but I practiced it a bit and I think I got the cadence down just right!

Of course, Momiji threatened to run me through with her sword if I ever sang it again, but she's not here! Besides, that wolf has absolutely no taste in good music!

I spring to my feet. "Hina, you need to cheer up!" I declare, pointing a determined finger at the startled goddess, "And I know just how to do it!"

"Huh?" She stares back at me in confusion. "What, are you gonna show me your collection of perverted photos?" Strangely, despite the soundness of the idea, there is a tinge of sarcasm to her statement. How odd.

"Nah, all my good stuff got burned to a crisp." I take a moment to reflect mournfully on the loss of all my quality photographs before bringing myself back to the present. "Anyway! You just sit tight and let Aya Shameimaru, entertainer extraordinaire, sing you to the heavens!"

"...Oh, this I gotta see," Hina mutters, looking at me with bemusement as I take a position on her floor. Deep breath. Remember the song, and...

"Dah-na-nananana..." No music player, so I gotta make the mucic myself. "Naaah naaaah nanana naaaah naaah...." Just keep dancing, swing the hips, a spin and-

"Aya what the hell are you doing?" Hina asks flatly. My only response is to point at her while smiling.

"We're no strangers to loooooove..." I sing.


"You know the rules and so do I!"

"Aya what the fuck are you doing?"

"A full commitment's what I'm thinking of..."

"Wait, this... you're not!"

"You wouldn't get this from any other girl!"

Hina just glares at me.

"I~ just wanna tell you how I'm feeling, gotta make you understand!"

"Aya, if you don't stop I'm going to hurt you."

"Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you!"

Hina stand up and walks over to me. It's working! I can just see the emotion in her eyes! Her irritated, hooded eyes!

"Never gonna make you cry, never gonna say goodbye, never gonna-"

Then Hina kicks me in the head and I slam into the floor.

"Ow! Dammit, that hurt!" I rub my aching temple and sore backside. "What the hell was that for?! I was just trying to cheer you up!" Goddamn, all that spinning must give her legs of iron or something!

Hina folds her arms and looks down at me with a raised eyebrow. "Okay, first of all, Kochiya showed me that song, too. Apparently, it's some sort of prank in the outside world. An old one. Secondly, she played it every day while flying around the mountain for a month. Everyone's sick of it. I understand her goddesses bribed her in order to get her to stop playing it all the time. Thirdly, you need to feel very, very bad for singing that thing. You're terrible."

"This is the thanks I get for trying to cheer you up?!" I protest. "Sheesh, at least give me points for trying." I fold my arms and pout there on the floor. Some people just have no consideration!

Hina smirks a little bit, then chuckles. "Okay, thanks for the thought at least. But off-key singing isn't going to help all that much, Aya."

I leap to my feet. "My singing is lovely and harmonious, thank you very much!"

Hina snorts. "Aya, I have no doubt that you are an excellent journalist, snoop, and are otherwise very skilled at getting into other people's affairs where you have no business..."

"Thank you!" I chirp, preening at her praise.

Hina stares at me blankly, then shakes her head. "...But the sad fact is that a broken piano can carry a tune better than you can. A very broken piano."

I groan. "But what about my dreams of capturing people's hearts with my sweet song?" I ask despondently.

"Yeah, not gonna happen," Hina retorts.

"Well, I'm not a singer, anyway," I reply, shrugging it off. "Unless I've been drinking, in which case I'm told that I sing pretty damn well. Alcohol must lubricate my throat or something. But anyway!" I beam triumphantly at Hina. "It looks like I cheered you up, huh?"

"Well, I don't feel lousy anymore. At least not for the moment. So sure, I'll give you that one." Hina smiles faintly.

I just frown at her reaction. "Hmm, not cheery enough yet... I need to do more." I snap my fingers as an idea occurs to me. "Got it! How about this, then?" Raising one foot off the ground, I start to push myself into a spin once more, letting my arms fly out to the side. "Lady Hina~," I sing, "Please accept this heartfelt display of devotion from me, the pure and honest Aya Shameimaru!"

As I twirl around, I see Hina gaping at me in astonishment. Well, when I'm actually turned in her direction. Hey, this is kinda fun! Around and around and around and oh gods I'm gonna be sick.

"Ulp. As, as I sign of my faith in y-you, Lady Hina... I'll keep spinning even after I barf!" And judging from the feeling in my stomach, that's not gonna be too far off. No, no, hold it in! Keep spinning, don't lose balance don't ooooohhhhhh I'm gonna puke...

Hina stares at me blankly as my face, I'm certain, turns as green as her hair. Maybe that's why her spiral symbol is that shade? However, as I start to audibly groan with my suffering (faith is enduring or something) she sighs, and a soft expression comes over her face. Or so I think, my head's kinda spinning at this point. And I mean really bad.

Anyway, she takes a step towards me, holds a hand out, which glows green, and-



I feel fine now.

I mean, I'm still spinning around like a top, but I feel just great!

"So, that's your trick then?" I ask as I keep revolving in place. "Divine power to keep from getting dizzy? That's cheating!"

"Actually, no, there's an actual physical trick I use so I don't have to waste energy on something so trivial. I don't really have a lot of energy to waste. But this actually counts as a prayer to me, so it kind of evens out." Hina shrugs.

Huh. I'll have to learn that trick. This is actually pretty fun. Spin, spin, spin~. Hey, I see what Hina means, this is really peaceful! I could just do this all day, just spinning around and forgetting the world...

Ack, no! I have lots of things to do, and worship of Hina is... well, technically on the list, but there's a lot more, too!

I slow to a halt, and notice Hina staring at me with an unreadable expression. "So..." I say slowly, "How about a meal? I'll make something for you!"

"Huh?!" Hina jumps out of whatever thoughts were running through her pretty head. "Wha... wait! You're the guest here!"

"Ah, I'm the supplicant!" I correct Hina with a broad smile. "So you just have a seat, Miss Goddess, and let your temporary follower fix you up a nice meal! We can talk while I'm cooking something up!" Taking a firm grip of Hina's shoulders I maneuver her back to the table and sit her back down in her chair. "So, just hang tight, okay?"

"Um, well, okay then?" Hina agrees, seeming a little bit off-balance. Poor girl, how long has it been since someone made her a nice meal? Shaking my head, I make my way to the kitchen and start gathering the ingredients for something quick but good. Maybe a simple stir-fry? No reason to get too fancy, I'm just trying to melt the ice here.

Actually, there's some other stuff I want to ask about while I'm cooking...

Pick two:

[ ] Ask about her problems with the tengu.
[ ] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.
[ ] Ask about that thing that happened with Rinnosuke.
[ ] Ask about her plans for the future.

Also, suggestions for Aya's cooking are completely welcome.
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.

In this order please.
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.

The other options seem like a trap..
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.

So, Sanae is a big troll.

I can imagine a lot of people who would fly around singing at the top of their lungs. Lilly and Aya probably do it all the time.

[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.

So Sanae rickrolled the whole mountain.
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask if she's considered going to Byakuren for help.
Ok, having a Shinto Goddess goto a Buddhist monk for help is insane, just saying.

[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.

They are pretty closely related, so it's a good place to start.

Didn't a Shinto goddess (Suwako) clear the land for Byakuren to build her temple?
Actually, there was a LOT of syncretism between Shinto and Buddhism in Japan, so it's not that outlandish. Still not my choice, though.

[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.
[x] Ask about her plans for the future.
[x] Ask about her problems getting worshipers.
File 13789234426.jpg - (279.19KB, 800x1129, chef shameimaru.jpg) [iqdb]
"So, how about a nice stir-fry?" I call out to Hina as I rustle around in her kitchen. "It's world-famous and guaranteed to knock your socks clear off!"

"That sounds nice," Hina calls back. "So, um... world-famous, huh?"

"Well, I certainly think so! At the very least, it's world-class eating! Heck, I can cook it for Momiji without her complaining, and that girl complains about everything!" I snort in annoyance. "I swear, she's always complaining about me making food too spicy, or too dry, or too this or that, or shaping it into smiley faces, or making the food look like underwear..."

"Wait, what was that last one?" Hina speaks up from the kitchen.

"Appearance is everything," I inform her, "And with the proper garnishings, you can make your meal look like just about anything! A feast for the eyes as well as the the stomach!" I sigh. "Though, I've lost my best reference material, so this one's gonna be a bit generic-looking. Sorry about that."

"That's fine," Hina says quickly, "You really don't have to go that far out of your way to make something for me. I mean, you REALLY don't." So modest! As I begin to cook the meal, Hina speaks up again, sounding hesitant. "So, why exactly did you come to visit me? You were talking like you wanted to lend me hand, and then kind of went off on a tangent..."

"Ah, business can wait until after the meal!" I insist, starting to cook. "We'll have a nice belly full of authentic Shameimaru cuisine and can stay up all night talking about that stuff!" Besides, If Hina throws me out on my ass, this might be my only chance to eat good food in a while. "Anyway! Do you mind if I ask a personal question?"

"If you ask about my underwear, I'm throwing you out," Hina says flatly. "Honestly, I've never met anyone as obsessed with it as you are."

Damn it. So much for getting that information legit. Oh well, there are other things to focus on! "No, I wasn't gonna ask about that," I assure Hina. At least, not now I'm not. "Actually, I was just wondering... how hard is it for you to get any worshipers? I know you don't exactly get a lot of people flowing through here."

There isn't a reply for a minute, and I lean out of the kitchen doorway, wondering if I asked a bad question. Hina is staring down into her empty teacup, looking sad and resigned. After a while, she looks up at me. "You mean you don't already know?

I go back to my cooking. "Well, I know you aren't exactly the most popular divinity in Gensokyo. Which is a crying shame, I have to tell you! I mean, a kind, sweet goddess such as yourself,all lonely and neglected? Criminal!"

Hina sighs. "I can't say it makes me happy, but I sort of understand. I have a really bad reputation here, after all. For one thing, humans see me as a bringer of poor luck and misfortune. As a result, they tend to avoid me like the plague... unless things are going REALLY bad for them. In those cases, they do make a pilgrimage here to get their misfortune removed."

"What happens then?" I ask, remembering the very small number of people I've seen walking to Hina's little shrine.

"Well, I really try to make them feel at home while I draw their misfortune out, but they always look like frightened rabbits," Hina tells me unhappily. "They don't touch any of the tea and snacks, and as soon as I'm done they leave an offering and run out of here. And I mean literally run. You'd think I had the plague or something."

Mental note: sound of bitterness in her voice. That will have to be addressed. It's hard to come across as a welcoming goddess if you're carrying around a chip on your shoulder.

"There was a rumor a while back that you tended to leak out misfortune," I point out. "Any truth to that?"

"No," Hina says simply. "If something like that actually did happen, I could just suck the misfortune back up, right? That's just a bad rumor." She sighs. "So, between that and living on youkai mountain, I don't get a lot of worshipers."

Mental note the second: need to dispel rumors of Hina being dangerous and do something about her living environs. Either build a convenient path to this place, or move her somewhere else.

"What about youkai?" I ask. "I mean, you live on youkai mountain, right? What about receiving faith from youkai as well as humans? There's plenty of sorts out there who'd like their bad luck taken away!"

Hina is silent for a moment. When she speaks again, there is a dark shadow lying under her calm words. "Well, many youkai see me the same way as your average human does. Beyond that, being surrounded by youkai as I am makes it very hard for me to receive people who might wish to visit me. My understanding is that some youkai will actually hang out near the trail leading to my shrine, waiting for a would-be supplicant." She snorts. "The tengu claim to patrol the whole area, but they mainly feel that it's my duty to warn humans away."

Ouch. Okay, new mental note: a goddess who favors humanity, and has a grudge against youkai. Probably doesn't like how youkai historically cause harm to humans, and doesn't like being used as a guard dog by my oh-so-wise elders. Morons. So, she's got a grudge not just against the tengu, but against youkai in general? Hmmm, that could be bad... Hina's really cutting herself off from a lot of potential customers. I can see her not wanted to lose human patronage, but to completely ignore youkai supplicants as well? Something else to address.

"Well, I guess that I can understand your difficulties," I say as I put the finishing touches on my masterpiece of a meal. "So, what are your plans for the future?"

"There are none," Hina says flatly, bringing me up short. "I have no plans. I'm stuck, and there isn't a damned thing that I can do about it." Her voice is full of frustration and defeat. Hmmm, this is another problem that has to be addressed: Hina has pretty much given up. And how can you have faith in a goddess that doesn't believe in herself?

Yep, this isn't just a matter of helping Hina run a decent shrine: I have to pick up this forgotten goddess, brush her off, and let her know that she CAN be great, that she CAN be loved! Yessir, just a little bit of life counseling from an expert like yours truly, and this little goddess will be on her way to the big time!

Still, I'm a little surprised at her behavior. Hina's always been a cheerful, upbeat sort of lady. What could have possibly made her feel so-

Pleasant Meadows. Right. Guilt can be enough to really bring your spirits down. Hmm, so that's another thing to deal with: a bit of PTSD. Might wanna have her meet up with some of the other survivors of that madness at some point, Hmm. So much to do!

However, the food is at last done! Turning off the stove, I carry the two plates full of my masterful cooking into the main room, beaming with pride at my handiwork. "I hope you're hungry!" I sing out. "And if you're not, I'm gonna cram it down your throat anyway! Waha!"

Hina perks up a little bit as I set down the plates of food and utensils. "Wow... this looks really good!" exclaims.

"Of course it's good, I made it!" I insist. "Anyway, eat up! Consider it my humble offering to the lovely goddess of this shrine." I clasp my hands as though offering up a prayer. In response, Hina squeaks a little bit, and carefully begins to eat her meal, making noises of approval as she does so.

Hmmm. She seems to be extremely susceptible to a decent prayer, doesn't she? This girl needs some serious, faith stat! Fortunately, that's why I'm here!

I guess there's no need to ask her about her troubles with my people. That's been spelled out already. Also, I should probably steer away from the Pleasant Meadows thing, at least for now. Still a bit too soon, I think.

Well, at least the meal gives me time to think! I need to consider how I'm going to convince Hina to go along with my idea to boost her image. How should I present it?

...I really need to get her to let me stay here, too. I don't wanna camp outside!

Telling Hina about Aya's plans to help her:
[ ] Formally
[ ] Informally

Also ask about staying the night:
[ ] Ask politely.
[ ] Beg.
[ ] Try to bribe her with your body.
[ ] Camp out on her doorstep until she's consumed with guilt and invites you inside.
[x] Formally
Let{s switch to business-talk so she knows she's serious.
[x] Camp out on her doorstep until she's consumed with guilt and invites you inside.
Should work.

Also, ideas? Moving the shrine is a must, to make it easier for humans to reach it - and less road means less guards needed. Youkai can fly anyway.
As for how to greet customers... how about a schedule? Humans from 9-16 Youkai from 16 to 23 hs? Exceptions for emergencies can be made, but this way anyone knows what to expect-we don't want this to become Hakurei Shrine 2.0.
Telling Hina about Aya's plans to help her:
-[x] Informally
Also ask about staying the night:
-[x] Beg.

Honesty seems to be the best policy with Hina.
[x] Informally


[x] Ask politely.

Doesn't mean we can't be nice, though.
[x] Informally
[x] Ask politely.
[X] Formally
[x] Beg.

Poor Hina. Almost makes me want to read PM to find out what happened to her.

I know how to cheer her up though, we should make her the proud owner the the world only Tengu feather pillow.
[x] Informally
[x] Ask politely.
[x] Beg.
[x] Camp out on her doorstep until she's consumed with guilt and invites you inside.

Formal doesn't suit Aya.

I agree with this.

[x] Formally
[x] Camp out on her doorstep until she's consumed with guilt and invites you inside.

Aya's been informal and overeager this whole time. Let's suprise Hina by formally stating how we're going to help her to show our seriousness.

As for getting Hina to let us stay here, let's not impose on her. If she invites us in, great! If not, then we shouldn't put pressure on her. Aya Shameimaru, PURE AND HONEST TENGU REPORTER, has been through much worse in the name of getting a scoop! She can suffer this much for the sake of a scorned and miserable goddess!

Nah man. It's pretty much our duty as mortals to impose on the divine. I'm sure our beautiful curse goddess can spare some of her infinite generosity on this helpless soul.

I'm sure the Tengu who forced her to stay on the mountain thought the same thing.
>Almost want to read PM

[x] Formally
[x] Camp out on her doorstep until she's consumed with guilt and invites you inside.
[X] Formally
[X] Ask politely

We are (for) now a worshiper of Hina, meaning we must show proper reverence when adressing her.
(Here's a funny thing though: in my native language "ask politely" and "pray" are the exact same word.)

Moving the shrine won't help if we don't fix her image first. Even if it was right next door, nobody wants to go to her. But after we've done that we should probably move the shrine, or otherwise make it easier for people to reach her (clear the road and keep it better patrolled, if nothing else) to make sure that they don't just forget again.
I don't know if a schedule is the best idea for her though. To me, that feels more like getting a doctor's appointment than a visit to a shrine, and people don't pray to a doctor.

The main problem is that she is in a Catch 22 right now.
She needs more divine power to perform some miracle or other generally Godly actions in order to show people what she can do and gain some proper followers, but without followers she can't get any power and thus can't do anything.

First of all, I think we need to reverse the rumor that she spreads misfortune. That's one of the biggest problems with her current situation. If people didn't fear her as a bringer of bad luck, this likely never would have happened to begin with.
Luckily Aya is one of the best in Gensokyo at "enhancing the truth", so something like that should be pretty easy for her.
The thing is, we can't just outright deny it.
When someone spreads a rumor they don't want to be told "you're wrong, it's like this", they want you to agree with them and share your own rumors that sounds like you're backing them up, even if they actually tell a completely different story.
So if someone says "she spreads misfortune, so don't go near her" we counter with something like "yeah, but I heard she only spreads misfortune to those who offend her. In order to do so she steals misfortune from others. I mean, all that misfortune has to come from somewhere, right?" Probably with some part about how "I know a guy who knows a guy who had a friend who offended her years ago and that poor bastard's life has been hell ever since, so be polite around her or you might be her next victim. But if you're lucky she might just take your misfortune to put it on that poor guy" and then you both raise a drink to his brave sacrifice. Better him than us.
Which still makes her sound pretty bad, but at least it includes the part where she takes it away instead of just spreading it.
And yes, I specifically used the phrasing "steals misfortune" as if it's something you'd want to keep. Right now she's seen as a goddess who's attention you do not want so the malicious implications of "stealing" is something the rumor mill would accept more easily than "gathering", even if the meaning is the same in the end.

We spread rumors like that to replace the old ones while we build up Hina's confidence and help her get over some of her own troubles.
Then once Hina gathers misfortune again and people start accepting the idea that she actually takes it away, we can eventually make up rumors that are the opposite of that poor friend of a friend guy.
"I saw this guy who caught her fancy, and since then nothing has gone wrong for him because she keeps gathering up his misfortune. He met a cute girl, he won the raffle, he found a fat wallet on the street and the owner was so happy he got a huge reward" and so on.
We keep replacing more and more of the rumors where she spreads misfortune, until only the truth about removing it remains.
[x] Informally
[x] Try to bribe her with your body.

Time to try something crazy. This will work.
[X] Formally
[X] Ask politely.

Time to get down to business.
[x] Formally
[x] Ask politely.

I was going to vote for camping out on her doorstep, because it sounded like a delightfully silly thing to do.

But then I realized: a tengu hanging out on Hina's doorstep. Anyone who was already nervous about visiting her who see this might very well just turn around and try to deal with their misfortune themselves.

Now, this series certainly isn't Pleasant Meadows serious, but at least until we've gotten Hina to open up a little bit, we also shouldn't necessarily treat everything with Being Meiling silliness without thinking it through.

>But then I realized: a tengu hanging out on Hina's doorstep. Anyone who was already nervous about visiting her who see this might very well just turn around and try to deal with their misfortune themselves.

...How is that any different than normal? If anyone is bothered by the Tengu that much, they wouldn't be going to the mountain at all. You know, the mountain they own?

They do patrol the road to Hina's shrine anyway. If anything it's reassuring that the Tengu are keeping a close eye on that evil, evil curse goddess! or whatever.
[ ] Informally
[ ] Try to bribe her with your body.

I feel it's important to stay in character.
[x] Informally
[x] Try to bribe her with your body.
[x] Formally
[x] Try to bribe her with your body.
-[x] "I meant I'd serve you as a temporary priestess or somesuch. Unless you had something else in mind?"
Calling vote for being all formal and polite. Update will be sometime this evening.
[X] Informally.
[X] Ask Politely.

Polite, but informal, that's the ticket.
Should say, Keymaster? I discovered Being Meiling two days ago. Since then, I discovered PM, and from there, this story. You've been amazing to read thus far, and this will be the first THP story I'm voting in. Well done, Keep it up!

Thanks, and welcome aboard! Sorry I already called the vote, though.
File 137910422262.jpg - (426.51KB, 500x750, things are looking up.jpg) [iqdb]
After a bit, we finish our meal, and I volunteer to do the dishes. Not exactly my favorite job, but it gives me some time to think things over. It's pretty obvious that Hina has a massive grudge against my people, and is somewhat less than thrilled that I turned up on her doorstep. On the other hand, I technically count as a follower for the moment, so that works in my favor.

...The more I think about it, the more I feel that I can't just act like Hina and I were old friends. That's what I usually do to get a rapport going with the other person, making them lower their guard and spill all kinds of juicy details. In this case, though, I don't think that's gonna work. This is a long-term project, so I have to act professional. Like I'm here as a helper. Maybe once things lighten up a bit, I can suggest a rousing game of strip mahjong, but right now? That'd get me thrown out on my ass, no two ways about it.

Speaking of which, maybe if I make sure to ask nicely, Hina will let me stay at her place. Worth a shot.

Once the dishes are dealt with, I sit down with Hina and take a deep breath. Show time.

"So, Lady Kagiyama," I say, folding my hands. "Right now, you're probably wondering what some random tengu is doing, showing up at your place and pestering you."

"The thought had occurred to me," Hina agrees. "Though you're not some random tengu, Aya. Honestly, I'm surprised that you haven't started snapping pictures already."

I wince a bit in emotional pain. "Don't remind me... the Bunbunmaru is currently defunct. Still, I'm not really here to take pictures. Not yet, anyway." I cough and clear my throat. "To be direct, Lady Kagiyama... it has come to the attention of the tengu that we're kinda, sorta, responsible for most of the reasons that your life currently sucks."

"No kidding," Hina says flatly. "What gave you a clue?"

"The report on Pleasant Meadows in that inferior, substandard newspaper people mysteriously choose to read," I say evenly. Stupid Hatate. "Anyway... can I just lay it out here? The tengu have been pushing you around because they're a bunch of over-conservative dicks with their heads planted firmly up their own rectums."

Hina nods approvingly. "Yes. In fact, that's exactly what I think of the vast majority of your people."

"You mean there are others you actually think well of?" I wonder.

"There are certain tengu I see as being annoyingly nosy and incredibly perverted," Hina replies, glancing away.

"Huh," I muse, "Wonder who those could be?" Hina blinks at me, and I brush the mystery off for another time. "So, let me summarize things for you, Lady Kagiyama: the tengu feel bad and want to make it up to you."

Hina stares. "What."

Now it's my turn to blink at her. "Oh, come on! It can't be that surprising, can it?"

"Yes," Hina replies. "Yes, it really can."

...Wow. Maybe Hina's not the only one whose reputation needs an overhaul. I mean, I know a lot of people in Gensokyo find the tengu village kind of frustrating, but this is a bit much. Still, I can see where she's coming from. "I don't know how your meeting with Lord Tenma went, but didn't he at least kind of hint at things...?"

"Lord Tenma showed up and awkwardly asked me how my life was going," Hina says, looking me in the eye. "I told him that my life was a disaster, and there wasn't much that I could do about it. I then had some choice words about him, his policies, the tengu in general, and how much I had started to hate this mountain. Then I started to drink. He left rather quickly."

I nod slowly. "Right. That confirms something for me." Huge grudge: check. "Anyway, it's true." I sigh. "Look, Hin- Lady Kagiyama. I know that the tengu haven't been the best friends in the world, but you're always been regarded rather highly by the village. I mean, you fulfill a necessary role, and do a really tough job, you know? So when it turns out that the tengu have been ruining your life this whole time... well, you can imagine that people in the village are feeling a little bit guilty, you know what I mean?"

Hina is silent for a moment before speaking. "Fine. You all feel bad. So why are you here?"

"I'm here as a representative of the tengu. We want to help you," I insist, leaning forward. "I admit it. We've really screwed things up for you. Now we want to make it up to you. We want to make you a popular figure in Gensokyo, instead of a goddess that everyone fears. I was sent because..." I hesitate. "I don't know why I was sent exactly. Probably because I'm better at public relations than the rest of the tengu, though."

Hina thinks it over. "Well, I have to admit, I'm a little more comfortable talking to you. Probably because you're not exactly a favorite among the tengu."

"Yeah, they prefer me out of the village, and I prefer being out of the village," I admit. "Bunch of sticks-in-the-mud, if you ask me. Anyway, that's... something I never thought of. Huh." I think it over for a moment, then shrug. Eh, what's it matter why I was sent, anyway? "In any case, Lady Kagiyama, what I want is-"

"Just go ahead and call me Hina," she interrupts, "I don't mind."

"Thank you. As I was saying, what I want to do is help you to improve your image and become a beloved figure in Gensokyo. With my skills, I'm sure I can lend a hand." I smile confidently.

Hina looks a bit uncertain. "Well, how would you help me?" she asks.

Right, time for the sell. "Loosely, I'm here to act as a reputation consultant and emissary of the tengu, who are willing to put their resources behind you. More specifically?" I hesitate. "Uh, I might have to be a bit blunt here, honestly."

Hina nods. "Okay. Let's hear what you have to say."

I clear my throat again and begin ticking points off on my fingers. "First of all, there's you."

"Me?" Hina asks, startled.

I nod. "Yes. You've given up. You honestly don't think that people will want to worship you, so you've stopped trying. How can people have faith in a goddess who doesn't have faith in herself? On top of that, you're guilty, bitter, and have a huge grudge against youkai, which is cutting you off from a huge source of faith. So there's, like, four personal issues that have to be dealt with."

Hina nods slowly, looking uncomfortable but accepting my assessment. I decide to press on.

"The second issue is your shrine. It just isn't all that accessible. Now, the tengu aren't going to give anyone trying to visit you a hard time anymore, but you still have to figure out where you want your shrine to be. Either clean up the trail leading here, or get a new one somewhere else. Your shrine will have to look inviting so that people will want to pay you a visit, and you'll also want to consider what other services you want to offer to bring people in."

I frown. "On that note, it'd help if you had a chief cleric to help spread the word. You ever have a priest or priestess in your service?"

"Not in centuries," Hina tells me, already sitting up straight.

"Well, it's something to think about, anyway. Um, what else... Right! PR!" I nod. "That's where I really strut my stuff. We gotta improve your image, and present you as a kind, benevolent goddess who just wants to take all the bad luck away! That's gonna be a big hurdle to jump over, and no two ways about it." I take a minute to mull it over. "You also want to figure out just how big you want to be. I mean, becoming a really important goddess would certainly bring the faith in, but it could also put you at odds with some fairly big players... so that's something to think about long-term. But yeah, that's the basic idea!" I nod confidently, then remember that I'm trying to be formal and sit up straight.

Hina looks a bit dazed. "That's... a lot," she says.

I shrug. "Well, yeah. We're building your religion up from scratch. What'd you think would happen?"

She sighs. "It's a lot to think about. But..." Her eyes glint a little bit. "...The thought of being an important goddess is tempting, to say the least. And I'm sick in any case of being a forgotten deity! All right, Miss Shameimaru, I accept your offer of aid!" She chuckles. "After all, when you're at the bottom of the heap, the only way to go is up!"

There we go, nothing like a little optimism to perk somebody up! And I haven't even gotten into my ideas for advertising! Still, there is one pressing little detail nagging away at me.

"So Hina, um, I notice that it's getting a bit late out..." I say hesitantly.

"It is, isn't it?" Hina leans back a little bit. "Well, it's a lot to think over, so why don't we call it a night and sleep on it?" She gives me a heart-stoppingly sweet smile. "And, Aya? Thank you. I never thought I'd say this, but... I'm looking forward to working with you."

I stand up and bow. "The pleasure is all mine, my Lady. And now, if this humble petitioner might make a request of her current goddess...?"

"Seeking a favor already?" Hina giggles merrily. "All right, Aya, what exactly is it you're after?"

I smile politely. "Can I sleep here?"

Hina's smile freezes on her face. "What?"

I shift nervously. "Well, you see... My house kinda got burned down. And if I don't stay here, it means I have to camp out somewhere. I don't have a lot of money on me, you see."

Hina frowns. "Why not just stay in the tengu village?"

"Because it's a village run by the tengu elders," I remind her.

Hina winces. "Right. Good point. Well..." Hina looks at me warily and I give her the best smile that I can manage. There might be a hint of desperation in my eyes. Ohhh, I really don't wanna sleep in the village! Finally, the beautiful, caring, gracious goddess of misfortune smiles. "Fine. If we're gonna be working together, we might as well stay close, right?"

I throw my arms around Hina in a joyful hug. "Thankyouthankyouthankyou, you are the best goddess ever!" She's also very soft and smells nice! Okay, maybe I'm not being professional, but she just gave me a place to sleep, dammit!

Hina just laughs and gently peels me off. "Well, welcome aboard, I suppose. Just hang on, I'll prepare a room for you."

"Ah, wait!" I exclaim as Hina turns to walk away. "Don't just walk off like that, this is the time to celebrate our new friendship!" I nod with certainty. "And now that we're embarking on a new mission, we need to do something to cement things between us! It'll make working together in the future that much easier!"

"Uh, okay then," Hina says slowly, "What did you have in mind?"


Crap. That was kinda spur of the moment. Um, what should I suggest...?

[ ] Drinking!
[ ] Take a bath together!
[ ] Strip blackjack!
[ ] Spinning!
[ ] Write-in!

Note: these are Aya's ideas. Whether or not they're all a good idea is another matter.
[x]Drinking game of Spinning. If you stumble when you spin, you drink!
[X] Drinking!
-[X] But not too much. Best get a bright and early start tomorrow.

Something like a "here's to a successful endeavor" drink. No need to overkill the first day.
[x] Drinking!
-[x] Make the whole world spin~
[x] Drinking!
-[x] Make the whole world spin~
[X] Drinking.
-[X] But not too much. Best get a bright and early start tomorrow.

Let's not binge drink, at least.
Just a toast or a few cups to, as Aya said, celebrate their new friendship and cement things between them.
A hangover is never a good way to start a new project.
[x] Play video games. Hina's friends with Nitori so she should have some kappa gadgets, right?
-[x] Maybe there's a game that involves spinning.
[X] Drinking.
-[X] But not too much. Best get a bright and early start tomorrow.

Do not get wasted.
[X] Drinking.
- [X]...at least TRY not to get drunk, though. It's like the definition of a bad idea. Hangovers and public relations do not mix, no matter what the ethanol says.
I bet Hina was the one getting all those 360 quickscope kills in CoD last night.

[X] Drinking.
[X] Spin the tail on the donkey.
[x] Drinking!
-[x] Make the whole world spin~
[x] Drinking!
-[x] Make the whole world spin~
[X] Drinking
-[X] But not too much.
So, calling vote with a unanimous decision for drinking! Albeit, responsible drinking. We have a big job ahead of us, after all.
File 137919921264.jpg - (89.88KB, 850x531, a nice drink at nightfall.jpg) [iqdb]
"Drinking!" I declare. "How better to celebrate a new partnership than over a nice cup of something alcoholic? I tell you, booze is the greatest invention that the world has ever come up with!"

Hina raises an eyebrow. "And of course, we'll be using my supply of liquor, right?"

"Eheheheh..." I chuckle sheepishly, "Well, like I said... a bit shy on resources right now, you know what I mean? I mean, I'm supposed to get a living stipend, but right now... Oh! But once I get paid, I can totally buy the next round of drinks!" I stare at the goddess hopefully. Please, Hina, grant my prayer! It's been forever since they let me have a sip of alcohol!

Hina stares at me dubiously before smiling, shrugging helplessly. "Well, why not? I could certainly use a drink myself." She wags her finger at me. "But we need to pace ourselves, alright? If we have as much to do as you indicate, then we can't go getting hung-over on the very first day of our... partnership."

I pout a little, but can't argue with the logic. After all, my pride is at stake, here! I've got a job to do, and by all the gods I'm gonna do it WELL! Besides, Hina deserves no less from me.

"Fine," I say, "but even if we're not getting plastered, I still want more than one!"

Hina giggles. "Well, I think that I can accommodate you there. Like I said, I could use a nice drink myself. How about we take it outside, and watch the stars come out while we drink?"

"I think that you have a beautiful, romantic soul!" I declare, nearly salivating at the thought of finally getting my hands on some precious, precious alcohol.


And that's how I come to be sitting on Hina's porch, right next to the misfortune goddess, as we watch the sun go down and the stars slowly come out, one after the other. Gotta give this place some credit; at the very least, it has a lovely view! I can see the beautiful sky, further down the slopes to the plains of Gensokyo, even as far as the lights of the human village. Granted, it's not as nice as the view further up, but you can't have everything. But this is still nice. It's... peaceful.

I take my first cup of sake and slam it right back, enjoying the burn as it slides down my throat. I sigh in ecstasy as the heat settles in my stomach, warming up my entire body.

Hina laughs as she watches me. "You sure love your alcohol, hmmm~? Tell me, is that a tengu thing, or is it just you?"

"Pffft," I snort, "Show me anybody in Gensokyo that doesn't love a nice bit of alcohol, I dare you. Oh wait! Such a person doesn't even exist! How about that?" I refill my cup. "But yeah, it's kinda been a long time since I had the chance to have a drink. WAY too long. Since the Cirno incident, actually."

"Cut you off, did they?" Hina asks, watching me.

I sigh dramatically. "It was horrible! I'd lost everything, and then they go ahead and take away my alcohol, too! How was I supposed to live, Hina? HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO LIVE?!"

"Aya," Hina says calmly, leaning away from me, "Calm down. Okay? Just calm down."

I blink, suddenly realizing that I'm breathing a little heavily, and that my voice may have just been a teensy-tiny bit too high. I take a calming sip of sake. "Sorry," I mutter, "It was kind of a trying experience for me, you know? Losing everything like that."

"How unfortunate for you," Hina notes with a faint smile. "Now, what happened there, anyway? All I know are the barest of details."

I wince. "Well... Cirno was big news, and adorably cute on the side, and I kinda-sorta got a little carried away when I was gathering information on her. Maybe more than kinda-sorta, actually." I swirl my sake around as I stare into it. "...Fine. I went overboard and became totally creepy, okay?" I shake my head and slam back the second cup, trying to forget that whole experience.

Hina nods approvingly and raises her cup in a toast. "The first step to solving a problem is admitting that you have one in the first place," the goddess comments. "Though, you really didn't do yourself any favors by breaking out, kidnapping a young youkai, and intruding on a wedding."

"Ugh." I crumple a bit at the reminder. "What did you want me to do, huh? Reimu and Remilia were getting married! Every instinct in my body was telling me to be there, to commit it to posterity! Of course, I needed Rumia's powers to cloak myself, and it's not like I could show up at the front door, so..." I shake my head wearily. "Yeah, that whole incident really tore it as far as the elders were concerned. Running away, kidnapping a young-looking youkai, unlawful entry... They were convinced that something was wrong with me after that one." I look up desperately. "It's not my fault that I get carried away so easily!"

"Sounds like you have impulse-control issues," Hina comments, still sipping away at her sake. She hasn't even finished her first cup. Well, I'd probably better slow down myself, huh? "You commented on everything we need to do to help me, but am I the only one here who needs a hand getting back on their feet?"

I stay silent for a moment, then look up at Hina. The misfortune goddess stares back at me with a penetrating gaze, her ribbons blowing softly in the night breeze.

"...Pretty perceptive," I laugh weakly.

Hina gives me a cheerful smile. "Well, I am a goddess after all. Even if I'm not all that powerful, I've still got a few things going for me. But be serious: this isn't all for my benefit, now is it?"

I sigh again and take a sip of sake. "...No," I finally admit. "Now, don't get me wrong; you've been treated pretty poorly by the tengu, and I really do want to help you for your own sake. But yeah, I can't help but think that if I stick around you and help you out, that it'll help me out too. I mean, 'Aya Shameimaru, the woman who made Hina Kagiyama big!'" I raise my hand as though writing the words in the heavens, then let my hand fall. "Is it so bad that maybe I want to help myself as well as you?"

"Nah," Hina says, taking another drink. "It's only natural. People pray to gods because they want help with their endeavors. Really, very few actions can be described as purely selfish or selfless. It's usually more of a combination of things. So, I'm looking at this as a sort of long-term act of devotion."

Hina giggles at the concept, but I think about it. I'm here, staying with the misfortune goddess in an effort to strengthen belief in her, and also in the hopes that my actions will reflect well on me, too. In a way, this is a huge act of devotion to Hina. And it's not like I've ever been totally enthused by the thought of worshiping Kanako and Suwako. Maybe I should consider converting, for real.

Bleh, this is too heavy to think about. Better change the subject. "So, you ever talk to any of your co-survivors from Pleasant Meadows?"

Hina looks away. "...No. They probably want as little to do with me as possible, really"

I look at her sadly. Way to put your foot in it, me. Now you went and got her depressed again.

...But I think I have a way to improve her mood. Standing up, I make sure that my balance is intact, and walk a few steps out onto Hina's front lawn. Then I start to spin.

"I don't think that's true at all," I tell her. "Hatate's article never even mentioned your involvement, you know that? She could have outed you, but I only found out about what happened through word of mouth. According to Momiji, she was one of the first to fall, but she doesn't blame you at all. You were a victim, Hina."

Hina doesn't respond. Not at first. But after a moment, she stand up and joins me in spinning on the front lawn. "Then why do I feel so guilty, Aya?"

"Because you're a genuinely sweet person," I tell her. "Way better than I am. You're the kind of caring goddess that people can depend on to look after them. So stop doubting yourself, okay? You made a mistake. We all do. Learn from it and move on."

Hina ponders it for a moment as she twirls. "I should talk to the others, huh?" she says.

"Yeah. You really should," I agree. There isn't much more to say after that. The two of us just keep spinning peacefully on the front lawn for a while as the stars come out. Eventually, Hina fixes up a room for me, and I go to sleep.


"Aya, wake up," a voice says to me.

"Gruuuhhhh..." I reply. Who the hell would wake me up this early? Now is Aya's sleep time. Sleepy. Sleep. Go away, rude wakey-uppy person."

"Aya, get up!" the waker-upper insists, shaking me now. "There's someone at the door for you!"

My eyes flutter open and stare at Hina's ceiling. For me? "Bluuuuhhh?"

Hina's face appears over mine. "Now put on your clothes and go talk to them already! You're keeping them waiting! I'll make breakfast while you talk, okay?" Just like that, she's gone. With a sigh, I pull myself out of the futon and stagger around, getting myself dressed. Still, I perk up pretty quickly. After all, even aside from being used to early-morning deliveries, my tormentors had been rolling me out of bed at the crack of dawn for weeks now.

Still, it was nice to be able to sleep in for a change.

Yawning a bit, but fully dressed, I make my way over to Hina's front door and slide it open to see...

[ ] A frowning wolf.
[ ] An angry wall of ice.
[ ] A glaring miko.
> "Show me anybody in Gensokyo that doesn't love a nice bit of alcohol, I dare you."



[x] A glaring miko.

Out of these options Raimu or Sanae would probably be the most helpful.

I must know.

As if there was a choice.
[x] A glaring miko.
[X] A glaring miko.

While NOOOOOOOO!!! is tempting, I figure Aya's bound to get a visit from Reimu sooner or later. May as well get it over with.
[x] An angry wall of ice.
NOO is meiling calling it.
[x] A frowning wolf.

Maybe it was for the best bathing didn't win; sure it'd be a good way to ease things but at the same time Aya can make it backfire.

That and odds are by the time this is over there'll be an Aya/Hina pairing.

Nope. I see no other choices.

I must know.

I have to know who it is. I have to.
> "Show me anybody in Gensokyo that doesn't love a nice bit of alcohol, I dare you."
No, probably not even Byakuren.

>>22921 here.
Incidentally, I think I'm misunderstanding something here, but...
How is Aya in a position to improve anyone else's reputation? Isn't her own reputation worse than Hina's at this point? (or at least almost as bad)
File 137921439188.jpg - (52.47KB, 383x263, vader.jpg) [iqdb]

There is no other choice, it must be so.

Basically, if there's something Aya knows how to do, it's advertise. And also get that advertisement to as many people as possible.

But you may have noticed that Tenma might have more than one objective here.
There are other options?

From the Symposium of Post-Mysticism, under "The Proper Meaning of "The True Nature of Youkai" ": http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Symposium_of_Post-mysticism/Part_2

(*Kanako offers Byakuren sake as well.)

Byakuren: Ah, I'm not having any, thanks. One of Buddhism's precepts is temperance, so...

Miko: Ah, that? There wasn't a monk around that seriously kept that precept in my time. (laugh) All those so-called monks smelled of meat and alcohol.

Byakuren: I will not yield to such temptation.
Drunk Flandre?

...Four drunk Flandres, maybe?
[X] A glaring miko.
Honestly they all look good, so I don't really care.

It's the mystery box, I can't resist its call.

[X] A glaring miko.

Here's to hoping for Reimu. She certainly has a lot fo things to "talk to" Aya about. Hina better make tea along with breakfast.

I'm more interested in getting things to move along right now, though the comedy mystery box option would be my second choice.
This is likely to be Flandre. She's been able to get this reaction out of Aya in the past.

Glaring Miko is likely to be Sanae. Considering this is Youkai Mountain, she's not likely to appreciate Aya/Hina stepping into their territory.
But Youkai Mountain isn't their territory, it's tengu territory, and Hina was around long before they showed up.
Besides, they don't even fill the same divine roles. Suwako is a goddess of mountains and Kanako is a goddess of wind and rain.
Hina is "stepping in on their territory" as much as the postman is stepping in on the guy who delivers your pizza.
(Especially considering the postman has been delivering your letters for years, and the pizza guy started his job last week.)
Yeah, gonna go ahead and call it for the obvious victor. Anyway, vote called, update later. After that, updates may be a little slow this week due to a tight schedule.
File 137929116856.jpg - (216.89KB, 850x792, just checking in.jpg) [iqdb]



This cannot be happening.

I refuse to believe that this is happening!

What is SHE doing here?!

Crimson orbs stare into my own, gazing into the core of my being... and judging me. Blonde hair tied up into a side-tail dances merrily in the wind, taunting me. A cheerful smile crosses her lips, concealing a vile heart with fake good intentions to anyone foolish enough to fall for it. Wings of a sort, studded with crystals, jangle in an almost cheerful tune, adding to the insult of her apparently harmless presence.

I know better.

I remember. I remember her words. Her harsh, horrible words, cutting deep into my soul, and flaying apart my innocent spirit.

Flandre Scarlet is standing on the step of Hina's house, and she has




western booze

in her hand. Just held there idly, like it was the most normal thing in the world.

I know better. I have seen the beast that lies beneath her pleasant exterior. A beast let loose by the traitorous touch of alcohol. As I stand there, heart hammering in my chest and a cold sweat breaking out on my brow, I remember the words she spoke to me, so long ago...

"Your newspaper. Sucks."

...and can't even find the strength to breathe.

"Hi, Aya!" the slayer of hopes and dreams says happily, twirling her bottle in one hand. "How've ya been?"

I was perfectly fine until you came here! Why have you come to me? Why?! Are you here to crush my spirit again, dammit?! No, I have to stay calm. I can't break. She would want that. She would enjoy that, wouldn't she? She'd-

It's terrible. Everyone hates it. Everyone. Sakuya just uses it to start fires.

Oh god. I still have nightmares about that day. Dammit, she's waiting for a response! Say something!

"Oh, I've been fine," I manage to croak out, my throat feeling very dry. "Been busy at the village, you know." Over Flandre's shoulder, I see that bitch of a gatekeeper watching our encounter with an interested expression. Damn you, Hong. First my house, and now you seek to torch my dreams, as well? Again?

Flandre just nods in understanding. "Yeah, I'll bet you have. Has it been good for you? I mean, I remember why you were thrown in the slammer in the first place. Do you?"

"You're a creepy pervert and Cirno would never like you. Or your newspaper, which is also creepy and perverted."

I'm trembling now as I remember the endless, horrible things she said to me. Those hurtful words which came so close to destroying my journalistic spirit. No! I have to hold on! I cannot give up! "Kinda hard to forget something like that," I say as casually as I can. I comes out sounding ragged to my ears.

Yes, I remember that day. The day my house got burned down. The day I was surrounded and shouted at by scary, powerful women. And in the middle of it all, her. Flandre Scarlet. The woman who took all of my precious memories and set them on fire.

Flandre just nods, still smiling. "Yeah, I think everyone remembers that day. So hey, word got around that the tengu let you out of jail or whatever. Congrats! And you're helping out this goddess-lady. Good for you, she could use a little more love! But, uh, you're gonna remember to be on your best behavior, right?" She starts to fiddle with the cap of her bottle. I can't take my eyes away from that cap, which is inching open ever so slowly.

"I have reformed," I say slowly. "I know I did some very bad things, and I am sorry. So very, very sorry. I also hope that you can forgive me for intruding on your sister's wedding as I did. I am sorry for that, too. Very sorry."

Why is the cap still sliding open? Why is she still opening the bottle? Why is she doing this?


The bottle opens.

The smell of whiskey hits my nostrils.

I start to hyperventilate. My heart is pounding. I can't breathe. I'm sweating, and it feels like ice on my skin. I need to run away. I'm the fastest in Gensokyo, I need to fly away. But I can't. I don't dare. She'll find me. Somehow, she'll find me, and when she does...

"You went to jail 'cuz you were creepy."

"No one likes her newspaper!"

"People like Hatate's more!"

"She's a sucky writer!"

"No one likes you anymore."

...No! No more! I can't take any more of that!

Flandre leans forward, transfixing me with her eyes. "I know you're sorry," she says quietly. "And I forgive you. Everyone makes mistakes, right? I've made a lot of mistakes, too, Aya." She reaches up and pats me on the cheek. "The thing is, I've learned from them, and tried very hard to be a better person. I just wonder: have YOU learned from your mistakes? I really hope you have. Because if you haven't, if you go around stalking people you really shouldn't, or go around spying on people when all they want is a little bit of privacy..." Flandre lifts the bottle and takes a long sniff of the whiskey. I think my heart is about to stop. "...Then I might just have to come by and have a drinking party with you. Would you like that, Aya?"

"I'm really sorry, but you really are a terrible reporter."

"No," I breathe, as the terrible memories pound through my mind.

"I didn't think so." Flandre holds my gaze for an eternal moment. Then, she replaces the cork on her bottle and I nearly collapse with relief.

The young vampire skips back over to Meiling, and spins around to smile at me. "I believe you, Aya. I believe that you have learned from your past actions, and want to be a better person. And good for you!" She shoots me a thumbs up. "I just wanted you to know that a lot of people have long memories about what happened. But we're giving you a chance! Everyone deserves a chance, right? And all you have to do is NOT do a couple of things! Easy, right?"

For a moment, Flandre drops the cheerful child act, and stares at me with all of the charisma and force of will one would expect of a five hundred year old vampire. "Don't. Blow it."

I nod, trembling all over.

Flandre smiles cheerfully once again. "Coolness! Bye now!" With a cheerful wave, the vampire launches herself into the sky. Meiling stays behind just a moment to lock eyes with me. She doesn't say anything. She doesn't have to. After a long moment, the gatekeeper leaves, and I shakily close the door.

"What was that all about?" Hina asks from behind me.

I don't answer.


I finally lose it. "WAAAAAAAAAHHHH!!!"

You would too, dammit!


"Are you okay?" Hina asks me once I've stopped sobbing in the corner.

"Yeah," I say shakily, sipping at a cup of tea. "It's just that meeting her brought back a lot of bad memories. I'll be fine."

Hina still looks worried. "But what did she want?"

I sigh. "To give a warning. She basically told me to keep on the straight and narrow. Or else." I shudder. "Don't ask me to elaborate. Please."

Hina nods. "Okay. But if you want to talk about anything, I'm here. Okay?"

I just smile at that. Hina is such a nice lady, really. She deserves the best. And that reminds me: I have a job to do! That's right, I'll show everyone! I'll show cruel vampires, bitchy gatekeepers, and anal-retentive tengu alike just what I can do! I'll make Hina the star of Gensokyo, and then they'll be crawling to me for forgiveness! And I'll forgive them, because I'm the very soul of generosity, but the point is that they'll WANT forgiveness, and-

"Aya?" A perplexed Hina is waving her hand in front of my face. "You spaced out there. Are you still with me?"

I blink and come back to myself. "Uh, sorry about that, Just had some stuff on my mind... anyway! Let's get to business, shall we?" I put aside my tea and pull out my notebook. "Now, I've been thinking long and hard about this, and I've put together a bunch of things that we need to work on. So, let's put our heads together, and figure out what we need to do first!"

Hina nods, looking determined. "Right!"


[ ] Personal development. Hina has some things she really needs to work on as a person:
-[ ] Her feelings of guilt.
-[ ] Her bitterness with her life.
-[ ] Her grudge against youkai.
[ ] The shrine.
-[ ] Location? Here, elsewhere?
-[ ] Any improvements to be made?
-[ ] What services should be offered?
-[ ] What about clergy?
[ ] Public relations.
-[ ] Improving Hina's image.
-[ ] Advertising her services.
-[ ] Getting followers.
[ ] Strategic alliance with another faith?
[ ] How big should you grow?

Welcome, readers, to THE LIST. This is a general list of the things Hina needs to do to improve her lot in Gensokyo. It is not comprehensive. There are other issues that may arise as her faith increases. Some issues may be resolved on their own once she deals with another problem. On the other hand, some issues, like dealing with her shrine, are a whole can of worms in and of themselves. What you need to do is make ONE selection for Hina and Aya to focus on for the time being. Remember, some things are far more important right now, and some choices are just something to mull over for the future. For now, just choose one area to investigate.

And also: these are just the preliminary stages. So don't stress over the choice too much.

One other thing, we've now completed the introductory arc. So, for the next stretch, please also choose one of the following:

[ ] Be Hina.
[ ] Stay as Aya.
[x] Improving Hina's image.
-Get Akyuu to revise her report and issue a public apology. See: http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Symposium_of_Post-mysticism/Hina_Kagiyama
[x] Stay as Aya.
[X] The shrine.
-[X] Location? Somewhere easier for the average person to get to. At the same time, don't want to alienate the tengu by moving too far. Maybe near the bottom of Youkai mountain?
[x] Stay as Aya.

I'd agree with you
but I want a shrine location in Akyuu's report, so I think this needs to go first.
Also, the other sub options in the shrine tab can be worried about later.
[x] Improving Hina's image.
-Get Akyuu to revise her report and issue a public apology.
[ ] Personal development. Hina has some things she really needs to work on as a person:
-[ ] Her feelings of guilt.

I say lets start from the ground up. Hina has some issues of her own to deal with.


[x ] Stay as Aya.

Don't see why not, this is the tale of Aya's redemption.
[X] Her feelings of guilt
[X] Stay as Aya.

Here's the thing, right now, that's the one thing Hina can do before getting her reputation back on track. Each part of it will have to be done at once, somewhat. But while she can do one thing at a time, Hina should talk it over with the people she's hurt.

Keep to Aya, since you promised us an Aya story, I want an Aya story. 'sides, Aya is a fun kind of crazy. Hina is much less so.

my $0.02 on this. I just think there's a hell of a lot of work ahead, so chipping the edges off is probably a good idea. (Maybe it should be Hina's suggestion? It seems almost out of character for Aya to think ahead.)
[X] Her feelings of guilt
[X] Stay as Aya.

I think the first thing to be worked on is Hina herself then we can worry about the others.
[X] Her feelings of guilt
[X] Stay as Aya.

It's funny. In Being Meiling, whenever Flandre broke down Aya, I thought it was hilarious. But when it's directed at you, it's suddenly not very funny at all. In fact, I actually felt really bad at that point, angry at Flandre for being so damn mean.

Then I remember just what Aya did, and it's sort of a weird swirl of emotions. I don't really know how to feel about this.

Maybe because Aya is more sympathetic here? Maybe because it's now felt from the other perspective? Maybe because I'm reading it in second person this time, with the "you's" and "I's"?
[X] Her feelings of guilt
[X] Stay as Aya.

This is probably the most critical at the moment. She needs some closure to that whole incident.
[X] Her feelings of guilt
[X] Stay as Aya.

Yeah same here, it's not fun on the other side. Also, I'm surprised that Aya isn't bitter about them burning her house down.
Before she can work on something else she needs to forgive herself.

[X] Her feelings of guilt
[X] Stay as Aya.
[X] Her feelings of guilt
[X] Stay as Aya.
[X] Her bitterness with her life.
[X] Stay as Aya
>What you need to do is make ONE selection
>ONE selection


[x] Personal development. Hina has some things she really needs to work on as a person:
-[x] Her feelings of guilt.
[x] Stay as aya
The 'easiest' thing to handle and the most important. We should completely focus on her feelings before starting this.
Yeah, I missed that. I blame being sick as hell.

Anyway, I'll just update my vote to

[X] Personal development. Hina has some things she really needs to work on as a person:
-[X] Her feelings of guilt

[X] Stay as Aya.

Deleting the old post.
[x] The shrine.
-[x] Location? Here, elsewhere?

[x] Stay as Aya.
Well, my schedule for today went and opened up on me, thankfully. So, I think I might just call the vote for dealing with Hina's feelings of guilt and write up an update.

Also, we'll stay as Aya for the time being, but I'll ask again after a while. Just in case anyone wants a change at some point. I'm honestly good either way.
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Hina bites her lip as we go through the list, brow furrowed in thought. "That's... a lot," she notes.

I nod in agreement. "Well, yeah. I mean, we're basically building up a religion completely from scratch, y'know? There's gonna be a lot to do. And beyond that, this is just a preliminary list! I'm sure we'll think up all kinds of things once we get going."

Hina nods at this. "You're right. So, um, where should we start?"

I shrug. "You're the goddess. You tell me where we start."

"Hmmm." The goddess in question mulls over the list for a moment, eyes flicking up and down over its contents. After a moment, she glances back up at me. "I notice that you have a couple of things labeled 'personal development.' Don't you think that's a bit... too personal?" The green-haired beauty shifts uncomfortably.

I shrug. "Sure it is. But I've never let that stop me before!" I pause, considering my words. "Uh, what I mean is, while I have always respected the dignity and privacy of everyone I come across- Hey! Don't roll your eyes at me!" I glower at Hina as I notice her oh-so-rude facial expression.

Hina just gives me a skeptical look. "I apologize for being rude, but I seem to remember more than a few candid photos in the Bunbunmaru."

"I'm just sharing female beauty with the world!" I protest, "What could be wrong with that?"

"The fact that you're not respecting people's privacy and dignity?" Hina suggests.

I grumble. "Right. Fine. Just spin everything around on me, why don'cha... But never mind all of that!" I try to get this conversation back on-track. "What I'm getting at is that I just tend to call things as I see 'em. And you, Hina, have some issues to deal with." I raise one finger to punctuate my wise statement. "A goddess is the very center of her faith. Therefore, she must tend to herself as much as her shrine. Or something like that."

Hina sighs. "In other words, nobody wants to worship a bitter, prejudiced goddess with guilt issues."

"Nobody you want on your side, in any case."

Hina nods slowly. "Well... I think we should deal with the most immediate issue."

"Right!" I start bouncing in my seat excitedly. "Your outfit! I mean, it's nice and all, but you gotta look into miniskirts, baby! Seriously, just flash a little bit of leg, and you'll have worshipers beating a path to your door! Throw in some sexy stockings-"

"Aya. I meant my personal issues," Hina says flatly. "And I'm not tarting it up. Deal with it."

"Awwww..." I slump in my chair. "But... mini-skirts! Stockings!" I give her the best pleading gaze that I can manage. "With my photography, I can make you look so good~!"

Hina seems impossibly immune to my logical argument. "Aya, my image can wait. Didn't you just say that I had to deal with my own issues first? Well, I agree with that."

I sigh. "Okay, okay... forgive me for getting worked up over the thought of doing a photo shoot with you." I shake my head, putting the idea on the back-burner for a while. "Anyway, in my opinion, your biggest deal right now is how you mope around feeling all guilty and stuff. That's gotta go."

Hina leans back, looking depressed. "...I know. I realize that it isn't doing me any favors to just sit around and feel bad about myself. But what do you want me to do?" She looks down at her hands, curling them into fists. "I helped set up something terrible. Rinnosuke... he'd hooked us up to this machine that was tearing our minds down, making us into puppets. It was terrible... I could barely think." She looks up at me with tears in her eyes. "How the hell can I go on, knowing that I did something so... so terrible, for such stupid, selfish reasons?!"

I look at her, long and hard. "Hina, from what I've heard, you were a victim. That guy just took advantage of you when you were down. You didn't know what he was planning. How could you have known?"

"But there were so many clues... I was just too angry to pay attention to them. I mean, I could have done something." She looks away, unable to meet my eyes, and I sigh.

"Hina, I'm not saying that you're totally innocent here. But you're not totally guilty, either. Look, you'd been frustrated for gods know how long, and Rinnosuke took advantage of you. That's all. You didn't know that any of this was going to happen! If you had, you would have done something to stop him, right?!"

"Of course!" Hina insists, looking up at me. "But in the end, I couldn't do anything."

"Neither could a lot of people. Really powerful people, at that." I rest my head on my palms. "See, this is what I'm talking about. It wasn't your fault. You were angry, and someone took advantage of your feelings and mislead you. You can't just go and blame yourself for that! But here you are. So, knock it off, okay?"

Hina takes a deep breath. "I'm trying. But it's so hard. Every time I close my eyes, I can see the others. Their frightened faces. I just can't help but think that they're angry at me. That they hate me. I think that's what really bothers me: that people hate me who have a good reason to."

I nod slowly, an idea forming in my mind. "Then I know exactly what to do! Let's go meet with one of your fellow prisoners and see just how much they 'hate' you, huh?"

Hina flinches a bit, but considers the idea. "I guess you're right. I can't hide from them forever, can I? I really need to talk to one of them, let me hear with my own ears what they think of me." The misfortune goddess takes a deep breath and nods bravely. "Okay! Whatever happens, I'll accept their feelings! Even if they-"

"Stop right there," I warn her. "None of that. No thinking the worst. Try and be positive! You're fellow survivors of one of the nastiest incidents Gensokyo ever heard of! I mean, you all are practically comrades! Anyway, um... let me think about who we should go visit." I work it over in my mind for a bit. "..The Yama's out. Can't get to Higan unless we die, and I don't really wanna go that far! I guess we could go underground to see that bridge guard, but..." I shiver, "I'm kinda claustrophobic. And good luck getting Yukari out of bed."

Hina nods. "That still leaves us with quite a few others to choose from. So, which one of them should I go talk to...?" As she thinks it over, I give the issue some thought myself. That maid, Yumeko, is probably out, given that Makai is so hard to get to, but as for the others...

[ ] Hatate. She should be pretty close, right?
[ ] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!
[ ] Suika. She should be at the Hakurei Shrine.
[ ] Lyrica Prismriver. Everyone knows where she lives.
[ ] Iku. I'm pretty sure that she'd be flying around Gensokyo.
[x] Hatate. She should be pretty close, right?
I feel like she'd be an appropriate choice. She also feels guilty, although for different reasons.
[x] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!
-She's also practically a teacher so we can get religion-founding advice out of her too!
[x] Suika. She should be at the Hakurei Shrine.

You can never have enough Suika.
[x] Hatate. She should be pretty close, right?

Maybe if we do this right, we can eliminate some of her disdain for the Tengu as well!

I just want to see Aya vs. Hatate.
[x] Hatate. She should be pretty close, right?
[X] Kasen.

Okay, remember how I was saying to deal with the minor bits FIRST, while you can do them one at a time? that applies to Aya too. Seems to me that the worst thing to do would be to have Hina and Aya run into someone they share a dislike for. Yes, Hina's dislike for the Tengu is offset by guilt, but Aya is in the exact opposite situation. Funny? maybe. Disaster? Probably. I do want Aya to succeed, here.
You put such little faith into our pretty little tengu!
While I'm sure there will be an amusing little argument between them, I am confident that Aya is smart enough not to let her personal feelings get in the way of her mission! Plus, I'm pretty sure that Hina is more guilty and apologetic toward Hatate, not angry.
[x] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!

Haven't seen Kasen too much on this site.
[x] Suika. She should be at the Hakurei Shrine.

Oni are great at cheering people up. If anyone can assure Hina that everything's fine between her and the others, its Suika.
[x] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!

haha time for more Kasen.
[x] Hatate. She should be pretty close, right?

I don't think this would be too disasterous, that and closest first.

Also, Aya's silly, Hina's more than fine the way she is.
[x] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!
[x] Suika. She should be at the Hakurei Shrine.

Suika seems unlikely to hold onto a grudge, and is very unlikely to mislead Hina. Also, alchohol.
[X] Suika. She should be at the Hakurei Shrine.

I debated momentarily about going to see Kasen, but then I don't think it's established that Aya knows her very well. And the two of them worked together in the past during the Geyser Incident, so they ought to have some history together.

Besides which, if we go to the Shrine, then Aya gets a chance to start rehabilitating her image to the grand guardian of Gensokyo itself, and apologize for that whole "crashing your wedding in the name of a big scoop" issue. Even if she wouldn't admit it, I feel like hearing those words would really give Reimu some sense of comfort she didn't know she was missing.

Also, I'm pleasantly surprised to see you in /youkai/, Key. Looking forward to something a little more relaxed than your previous project.
[x] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!

Yes. Her, please her.
Let's [x] Hatate.
[x] Suika, she'll probably be the easiest to gain forgiveness from.
[x] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!

I believe Kasen is intelligent enough to understand the whole situation, and how much of it wasn't actually Hina's fault.
While she's generally critical of others she's also usually helpful. (Similar to Shikieiki who lectures people because she wants the to improve themselves, even if her lectures sometimes sound like lectures for the sake of lecturing.)

Kasen should probably back us up when we try to convince Hina that people don't hate her.
There might be some grudges, but deep down I think everyone understands that Hina was as much as, if not more, of a victim as everyone else.
[x] Hatate. She should be pretty close, right?
[x] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!

As funny as seeing Aya + Hatate would be, Hina doesn't need to see our rivalry right about now.
I just found your works two days ago, and have been reading Being Meiling and Pleasant Meadows eagerly. I have to say, I love your characterizations of...pretty much everyone, and your writing is great. I know most people have a bad image of OCs, but when you write them they are fantastic.

tl;dr, you're a great writer, Keymaster, and you should be proud of yourself.

Now, enough gushing.
[x]visit Suika. Hopefully it'll bring closure to Reimu and Remilia over the spoiled wedding incident, which I think they need. Plus, Reimu, Remilia and Suika are all aware of being misunderstood by everyone, and they can empathize with Hina. I think it would do the goddess good to know she's not alone.
[x] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!
Kasen's nice. She'll understand.
I just remembered someone else we should visit before all this is over. Someone who was also involved in the Pleasant Meadows incident (although more indirectly) and is probably feeling like shit right now.
And since she apparently had a drinking problem even before all that happened, I think she's probably so far into a bottle of liquid misery right now that even Hina can't handle all the misfortune.
I was about to vote Iku, then I remember'd that Hina was directly responsible for her getting caught, and therefore she's likely to be the least forgiving.
[x] Kansen
I ALWAYS put and extra n in Kasen's name

Tokiko had it even worse.
[x] Iku. I'm pretty sure that she'd be flying around Gensokyo.

She seems like a chill person.
[X] Suika. She should be at the Hakurei Shrine.
Pretty decent points here though I think Tokiko wound up taking things pretty well from what was said in one of No Escape's threads.
[X] Kasen. I mean, she's practically Hina's neighbor!

>building up a religion
Every time I see this phrase, Comfort Eagle starts playing in my head.
Calling it for Kasen.

Not sure when the update will be. Things are a bit hectic right now, so I'll probably need some time to work on it. Please wait warmly!
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"What about Kasen Ibaraki?" I suggest. "She's your neighbor, so it wouldn't be too hard to go see her, for one thing. For another, she's pretty down-to-earth, so she'd at least give you a fair hearing even if she DID hold a grudge against you. Not that I can see her doing such a thing, mind you."

Hina nods, slowly. "Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. I actually know where she lives, but I've never gone to visit her. Never had a reason before today."

I tut a little bit. "You need to be more outgoing," I declare.

"I do welcome people when they visit me," Hina protests, "It's just that most don't really appreciate it when I'm the one to come calling." She sighs a little bit.

"Something to deal with in good time, but for now?" I stand up and plant my hands on my hips in a clear display of my determination. "Let's go visit a hermit!"

"All right." Hina stands up and takes a deep breath, visibly bracing herself. After a moment, she opens her eyes again and nods, moving towards to the front door. "Do you know the way, Aya?"

"Yeah, but I might you to be the one to lead the way," I say awkwardly. "You see, um, I kinda wanted to do a special a little while back on the lives of hermits, and Kasen was the one most readily available, one, so..."

Hina stops in the process of putting on her boots and stares at me. "Aya, what did you do?"

"Nothing!" I cry, "Nothing much! Really! I mean, okay! I did try to take a couple of pictures of her while she was bathing, but come on! Should a hermit really be concerned with things like modesty? Besides, she has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of!"

Hina rubs her face. "And how did she react?"

I huff. "Her stupid guard animals ran me off. I mean, sheesh! Here I was, giving her a chance to reach out to people, and she throws it in my face! Isn't she the one always worrying about the people's spiritual health?"

"...So you wanted to share her bathing and purification techniques with Gensokyo?" Hina guesses.

I nod happily. "That's right! And they must work, 'cuz Kasen has this smooth, creamy skin. Oh, I'd love to run my hands along it~!" I squeal a little bit at the memory, then sigh in resignation. "But she ran me off before I got a good shot of her. What a waste. Anyway, I don't think she'd be happy to see me. For whatever reason"

Hina is staring at me blankly. "Do you fully understand why Kasen was angry at you, Aya?"

"Hmmm..." I ponder it for a bit. "...She didn't actually want to spread her bathing techniques? Hermit secret or something?"

The goddess of misfortune shakes her head. "Not even close. And I have a feeling that explaining it to you would be next to impossible. Unless you understand that Kasen felt that you were violating her privacy?" Hina looks at me searchingly.

"Why would she want to keep a sexy body like that private?" I ask, tilting my head in confusion. I mean, that's the sort of thing people love to see! And women are always so darn cute when you catch them like that, all red and embarrassed...

"I'll take that as a 'no,'" Hina declares, giving me an odd look. With a shake of her head, the goddess slips on her boots and walks outside, leaving me to follow after her. Why do I feel like I'm missing something here? Did Hina want pictures or something? I'm so confused...


A little bit later the two of us are looking at Kasen's house. Gotta admit, it's a nice place. Very calm, very peaceful. Secluded, but the view from her roof must be fantastic. Plus, she has a whole bunch of rose bushes arrayed in a beautiful pattern. Yep, this is definitely the kind of place where someone could get some serious meditation done.

A very private spot, too. Most likely due to the extremely large tiger and particularly huge eagle currently staring us down. I can't say that I'm an expert on animal facial expressions (other than crows) but these two seem somewhat... less than happy to have us here.

"Um, hi?" I ask raising my hand in greeting.

The tiger growls at me. Oh right, I remember now! These were the guys who ran me off the last time that I was here! They don't seem to happy to see me, though.

"...Did you guys want your picture taken?" I offer, raising my camera. This only makes them bristle, and the aura of menace coming off of them increases hugely. "Okay, maybe not," I chuckle nervously.

Hina clears her throat and steps forward. "Hello. Pardon the interruption, but is Kasen in? May we speak to her?" The two animals eye Hina warily, but don't seem as unhappy to see her as they are me. Still, there's a sense of hesitation in their posture. Maybe they're also wary of Hina's reputation? Which makes me wonder why animals would know about such a thing, but then these two seem to be more than common animals, and- my head hurts now.

"It's alright, you two, take it easy," a new voice says, and Kasen herself steps forward, eying me warily. She scratches the tiger on the head, causing it to... purr? Can big cats purr? Either way, it suddenly looks really happy. Like a big pussy-cat. The hermit takes a good, long look at me, and I return the favor.

Pink hair in buns. Distinctive clothing. Arm in a bandage. Absolutely dynamite body that she keeps all wrapped up. Seriously, that's a tragedy, this girl needs to get into mini-skirts!

"Welcome to my home, Miss Shameimaru," Kasen says guardedly. "What business do you have with me?" Then her gaze turns to Hina, and the hermit's gaze visibly softens. "Oh, Lady Kagiyama, what brings you here?" She looks back to me. "...With Aya, no less?"

"Oh, we're here together," I explain.

Kasen blinks, and looks back to Hina. "Is she blackmailing you or something? Last I heard, Aya was under arrest bu the tengu. Do you need some help?" I suddenly notice that Kasen's stance has shifted to something not quite aggressive, but that could turn aggressive in a heartbeat. Sheesh, where's the trust, huh?

"No, no, nothing like that," Hina assures Kasen. "Actually, believe it or not, Aya is helping me out under orders from her elders."

"Yep!" I say happily. "Those old fools finally admitted that all of the charges laid against me were stupid and could in no way be applied to someone as pure, honest, and awesome as me!"

Kasen thinks about it, then looks back to Hina. "So, she's on probation, then?"

"Pretty much," Hina agrees.


"Anyway, uh..." Hina looks very uncomfortable for a moment. "Actually, I'm the one who came to see you, Kasen. Um... I was wondering if we could just talk? For just a few minutes?"

Kasen's expression is now one of deep sympathy. "Of course. I understand, Lady Kagiyama. Actually, I'm glad that you came to see me. I was thinking about heading to see you, but I wasn't certain whether or not you wanted some more time alone."

"Honestly, neither am I," Hina replies, "But I decided that I'd come talk to you anyway. I needed to talk to someone else who was there." The goddess shakes her head and looks away.

Kasen just nods again. "Of course. Then please, come inside and have some tea with me. You are more than welcome in my home." She glances over at me. "...I suppose that Aya can come in as well."

Aww, I knew she liked me deep-down!

Anyway, that's how the three of us come to sit in Kasen's living room, sipping tea while an oppressive silence surrounds us. Looks like nobody really knows how to broach the topic of Pleasant Meadows.

...Kasen's rubbing the tiger's stomach like it was a kitten. I thought that thing was ridiculously fierce, but now it just looks adorable. I'm kinda jealous.

Hmmm, neither of these two know how to start things off. I guess it's up to me to break the ice!

[ ] Just ask about Pleasant Meadows.
[ ] Talk about your mission to help Hina.
[ ] Start relating details of Kasen's physique to Hina.
[ ] Write-in.
[x] Talk about your mission to help Hina.
[x] Talk about your mission to help Hina.

The most sensible option. Plus, maybe Kasen will be able to help us somehow. Advice, at the very least?
[x] Start relating details of Kasen's physique to Hina.

You guys are a terrible Aya.
[x] Just ask about Pleasant Meadows.

Stay on target, guys. We're here to try and help...well, really, both of them come to terms with what happend. Ignoring it does not help with this.
[x] Talk about your mission to help Hina.

I think this would be a better ice breaker as we can get around to the main topic fromm there.

And it seems Aya has no real sense of understanding other's privacy. If only there was a way to arrange it that she's on the recieving end... though I suspect she'd just go along with the attempt.
[x] Talk about your mission to help Hina.

A safe icebreaker, won't end up with us hitting a sore spot/being chased out by the tiger.
[X] Talk about your mission to help Hina.

It's the natural ice breaker. I think. So long as Aya can keep her ego within manageable bounds.
[x] Just ask about Pleasant Meadows.
[x] Talk about your mission to help Hina.

Start with this. Good ice breaker, good way for Hina to get her bearings so she can ask what we actually came for.
[x] Talk about your mission to help Hina.
[X] Talk about your mission to help Hina.
-[X] After they start feeling comfortable, ask about Pleasant Meadows.

Ease into things, boys, but don't forget our main motivation here.
[] Start relating details of Kasen's physique to Hina.

If we unlock the secrets of Kasen's beauty, we can make Hina pretty enough to attract hundreds of worshippers!
[X] Start relating details of Kasen's physique to Hina.

This is actually so stupid it's brilliant.
Aya takes one for the team by bringing up a subject that only she could think to bring up in a situation like this. That will lift this heavy, gloomy feeling and after that clears the air, everyone will have a much easier time talking about what they really need to say.

Take their mind of things for a second so they can just drop all the emotional baggage and get down to business.
[X] Start relating details of Kasen's physique to Hina.

Tactless, yes, but there will be no ice left to break following this...
[x] Talk about your mission to help Hina.
[X] Apologize to Kasen (for what ever we did wrong)
[X] Start relating details of Kasen's physique to Hina.


[X] Apologize to Kasen (for what ever we did wrong)
[X] Start relating details of Kasen's physique to Hina.

Apolgise to Kasen, but explain that we don't understand why she'd want to hide a body like hers. At the very least it'll break the ice by getting everyone trying to shut Aya up.
>[ ] Start relating details of Kasen's physique to Hina.

This is an awful idea. This story is about Aya's return to grace as much as it is Hina's, and Aya's not going to get there by reminding everyone why they don't like her. I think that the first step rebuilding her reputation is respecting other people's boundaries, even if she does not understand why they care. Such actions may be out of character for the standard template for Aya. However, if we force her into a that boringly 1-dimensional character, she is destined for round 2 with drunk Flandre.

>[ ] Talk about your mission to help Hina.

I can't shake the feeling that the tengu sent Aya to Hina because they secretly hope the whole thing will fail and get their two biggest embarrassments out of the way forever. Whether or not that is true, it would definitely sound believable to Hina, who hates the tengu. If Hina gets this idea into her head, Aya's life will be a lot harder. In addition, bringing up the mission often would remind Hina that this is just Aya's way out of prison, not something she is doing on her own.

Therefore, I'm going to vote for:
[X] Just ask about Pleasant Meadows.
-[X] Excuse yourself once they start talking to give them privacy
-[X] Fail to resist the urge to spy on them

Still feels in character for Aya, without reminding people of problems outside of the current focus.

>This story is about Aya's return to grace as much as it is Hina's, and Aya's not going to get there by reminding everyone why they don't like her

On the contrary, I think the most important part of redeeming Aya is makeing her realise why people don't like her, which is why I voted to apologise to Kasen and then ask her why she doesn't want show off her body and what's wrong with the whole nude photo think (in a a typically Aya fashion). Hopefully Aya will get some sort of understanding from the following conversation. Or not. I don't know.
Well, the story may be about Aya's redemption, but that doesn't mean she will realize on her own everything she's done wrong. She can just as well have it beaten into her (possibly by a drunk Flandre) after blundering on the same as always.
The end result will be much the same, the difference is just how we get there.
Personally, I chose the option that I thought would be funny while also being effective, because this story brings the Being Meiling verse back towards being more lighthearted again after Pleasant Meadows.
[x] Talk about your mission to help Hina.

I'd like to avoid having Flandre and/or various other people inflicting more deep seated trauma to correct a behavioral problem.
VOTE STATUS: Called for talking about the mission to help Hina.

WRITER STATUS: Getting turbo-kicked in the balls by life. Ouch.

UPDATE STATUS: Could be a few days. I've got a lot going on right now, but I'll chip away at it here and there. I should have more breathing space next week, anyway.
[X] Start relating details of Kasen's physique to Hina.

Behold the wrath of Life and College.
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Well, might as well start off by talking about our brilliant, albeit mostly conceptual at the moment, plan to make Hina a star!

"So yeah, I got released from my wrongful confinement in order to help out Hina!" I declare to the world at large. It works. Sort of. I have Kasen's attention, but it's more of a disbelieving stare then an interested expression.

"...'Wrongful confinement?'" the hermit echoes me, "As in, you honestly believe that they were in error to lock you up?"

"Uh, that's kinda not what I'm-" I begin.

"Oh, she understands deep down, but I think that she's in denial," Hina quips.

"Yeah, I mean no! But that's not really-" I try again.

"So you're certain that she isn't a threat to Gensokyo's youth?" Kasen asks Hina. "I'd feel obligated to step in if she proved to still be a menace."

"I am NOT a-" this is starting to piss me off!

"No, not a threat," Hina replies, "Just extremely impulsive, and frequently in possession of bad judgement."

"GodsDAMMIT, you guys, you're missing the key point here!" I shout, getting annoyed at being ignored.

Kasen looks over at me. "You'll have to excuse me, Aya, but your breaking into my home and trying to take pictures of me in the bath didn't exactly endear me to you. Plus, I've talked to Miss Momiji. To be perfectly honest, it's hard not to be a little wary of you." The horrible hermit tops off her painful words by giving me a suspicious look. Me, of all people!

"I keep telling everyone, I didn't mean it like that!" I wail, "What is it gonna take for people to give me a break huh?!"

Kasen just shrugs. "Trust is easily lost, and difficult to obtain. If you want people to think well of you, then you will need to work hard to regain their trust." She pauses. "Or perhaps to gain it in the first place. Honestly, Aya, most people don't like it when others barge into their homes to take candid pictures." Kasen looks very annoyed with me.

I just stare at her blankly. "I don't get it. Why hide your body? You've got it going on, girl!"

The hermit blushes a little bit as she glowers at me, when Hina speaks up. "Aya, if someone barged in on you while you were bathing, wanting to take your picture, how would you react?"

I think about it. "Pose?"

Kasen chokes at this. Hina just nods. "I'll keep that in mind then. In any case Miss Kasen, Aya seems to have at least realized that she was very much in the wrong, even if she can't admit it to others. It's a pride thing, I think."

"Right HERE, you two!" I say loudly.

"But it is true that Aya is lending me a hand," Hina continues, ignoring my entirely justifiable annoyance. "You see, she was sent by the tengu is order to help me build up my faith."

Kasen's eyes widen a little bit while I sit there and fume at being ignored. "Really? Well, I have to admit, Aya would be good at advertising." She thinks about it for a moment. "Just be careful that she doesn't try to advertise using awkward pictures of you. Like you in the bath, or changing, or asleep..."

"Pictures like that would totally boost Hina's image!" I protest, "And stop ignoring me, for crying out loud!"

"Aya," Hina says gently, "No one is ignoring you. Just because you're not the center of attention at the table doesn't mean that people don't know you're there. Just calm down, okay?"


Well, I guess that makes sense.

...Wait, why did Hina just sound like my mother?

"All of that aside, you're attempting to build up your following?" Kasen asks with a raised eyebrow. At Hina's nod, the hermit ponders for a moment. "Forgive my asking this, but are you a true deity? I had heard that your nature as a goddess was somewhat in doubt, given your ability to exist without faith."

Hina sighs wearily. "It's complicated. Technically, I am a goddess, given my ability to nurture myself from the faith of humans. And youkai as well, I suppose. But I'm actually able to exist with almost no worshipers. Basically, I just feed off of my own misfortune to sustain myself."

"Your misfortune?" Kasen asks curiously.

Hina gives a sad smile. "The misfortune of being a goddess with no followers."

The hermit winces. "Ah. My apologies." She pauses for a moment to take a sip of tea. "So, you can sustain yourself without faith, but can augment yourself when you receive it?" Hina nods. "Interesting... I've always felt that you were poorly treated, by the way. Someone who so selflessly takes others' misfortune away is someone to be admired, not feared and ostracized."

Hina bows her head, smiling. Thank you for your kind words, I-" she trails off and stares at me. "Aya, what are you doing, exactly?"

"Stacking teacups," I say, continuing on with the porcelain pyramid. "Can't help it. I'm bored. Can I join the conversation now?" Stupid hermit and goddess, having their chat while I'm right here, making it sound like taking innocent candid pictures is a bad thing.

Kasen sighs. "My apologies, Aya. While I have... issues with your views on personal privacy, you are nonetheless a guest in my house, and should be treated as such. Did you have something you wanted to bring up?"

I think about it. Kasen and/or Hina's measurements? Nah, seems like a weird taboo subject for some reason. Bring up Pleasant Meadows? Nah, I should really let Hina handle this on her own. Um...

"Well, I don't actually have anything to say," I admit, "But I hate being made to feel like I'm being left out!"

"Uh, okay..." Kasen says slowly, staring at me with an unreadable expression. She turns back to Hina. "In any case, were you seeking my aid in the building of your faith?"

Hina hesitates. "No." She takes a deep breath. "I wanted to talk to you about Pleasant Meadows."

There is a moment of silence.

"Oh," Kasen says quietly.

Another moment of silence.


This got dead all of a sudden. Should I say something?

[ ] Egg them on.
[ ] Change the subject (write-in).
[ ] No, just stay out of it.
Shit, this is a tough decision.
I'll go with

[x] Egg them on.

for now. My reasoning is that Aya's ... Aya-ness will help to alleviate the tension. But it might also make it worse.
I feel that this is a really important conversation, and that maybe we should treat it with more significance. I'm not really sure.
[x] Egg them on.
[x] Egg them on.
[x] Egg them on.
[X] No, just stay out of it.
[x] Egg them on.
[X] Just stay out of it.

Aya may have an unsual opinion of what "privacy" entails, but she's not stupid. She should be able to tell that this subject isn't something she can blunder in on with her usual lack of grace.
At least not while talking to Kasen. Had it been, say, Suika, then it would likely be okay. She's permanently drunk anyway, so she's a bit more loosened up.
[x] Egg them on.
[x] Egg them on. Hina came here to deal with her guilt, avoiding the issue won't help.
[x] No, just stay out of it.
Keep your trap shut and we may be able to get through this without accidentally making anyone cry. A crying Hina, oh what a sad sight that would be...
[x] Egg them on.
[X] No, just stay out of it.
File 13798855963.jpg - (187.36KB, 500x706, image.jpg) [iqdb]
Gonna call it now for egging them on. Not sure when the update will be; could be a couple of days. This week past has been rough for me.
[x] Egg them on.
[X] Egg them on

Aya's Aya-ness has been set up as a practical thing, on some level. Push the advantage.
File 137998085449.jpg - (441.21KB, 850x1403, apologies.jpg) [iqdb]
I sigh wearily. This is going nowhere, fast. Well, if these two can't get to the point on their own, leave it to yours truly to expedite a social encounter!

"Come on," I complain to the two of them, "Get to the good part already! About how Hina got duped into being Rinnosuke's patsy and got people captured at Pleasant Meadows! You know, the good stuff! Hurry up, already!"

Kasen and Hina are staring at me in horror, for some odd reason.

"What?" I ask.

Kasen runs a hand down her face. "Aya, do you have any sense of delicacy at all?!"

"Uh..." Hina is pale and speechless. This is getting old.

"Oh, don't give me that!" I scoff, "Hina made it quite clear just what she wanted to talk about when we first got here! I mean, okay, you didn't want to get right into it. But now you're just shying away from the topic! Come on, it's pretty damn obvious that you two have something to air with each other. So get to it!"

Kasen looks at me a moment longer, blinking. Then she looks over at Hina. "Aya may be a bit blunt, but she does make a good point from time to time."

Hina sighs. "Yes. I... suppose that I am avoiding the subject, after all."

Aaaaand back to talking about me as though I'm not even here. Well, whatever. At least they're talking, period.

Hina takes a deep breath. Another. Then she swallows deeply. "I came here to explain myself," the goddess blurts out in a hurry. "My actions, I mean. And my reasoning. Everything." Hina hesitates, then slumps in her chair a bit. "...Sorry. This is harder than I thought."

Kasen's face shows only sympathy. I notice that her tiger has padded off to sit in the corner and watch the conversation curiously. "Please, take your time," the hermit says gently. Hina nods, and takes a moment to get her thoughts in order.


"...I'd been angry for a long time," Hina says at last, voice barely above a whisper. "I blamed the tengu for it. For keeping worshipers away, I mean. For keeping me where I was. But... I also blamed myself, for being incapable. For being the sort of person that made people run in fear whenever they saw me." Hina shakes her head. "After all, maybe I'd be able to bring in followers if I was just a bit... better, you know?"


"You can't possible blame yourself." Kasen remarks, startled.

"...Not completely," Hina admits, "And I know that I can't totally blame myself there. But I am at least partially to blame for it. The tengu sure weren't helping, but maybe after a while they just became a sort of scapegoat. A lot of youkai did, in my mind. It's foolish of me to think so, but I can't get over it in my head. But it was a lot to deal with. Anger, both at myself and the world at large. I felt trapped, and I didn't know what to do about it. About the tengu, keeping me where I was. About youkai, who threatened the few humans who did come to visit me. About humanity, holding me at arms' length. It was frustrating... I felt bitter. It was all that I could think of. How it just wasn't fair that I should be stuck on a mountain with no one to visit me."

Hina pauses for a moment, and stares off into the distance, her eyes damp. "When Rinnosuke came to me, he was so kind and charming. He talked to me, listened to me. He gave me a strange vibe, yes, but what of it? I was just so glad that SOMEONE was actually willing to visit my shrine and actually pay attention to me. He knew about my upcoming trip, and wanted my help. He wanted to play a prank, he said. Scare the hell out of a few powerful youkai, and take them down a few pegs. I was all for it. Honestly, the thought of yanking the chains of a few youkai felt like just what I needed."

"He used you," Kasen says quietly.

"Yeah," Hina agrees, "But I let it happen, didn't I?"

"...You're blaming yourself again," I say after a moment of silence.

"Maybe," Hina whispers, "But how can I not? I let him lead me around, even though something deep inside was whispering to me that things just seemed a little off. A little strange. But I just didn't care. I was obsessed with the thought of getting a little bit of petty revenge against a few youkai, the beings I blamed for keeping humans away from me." Hina is struggling not to cry. "I was even fine with getting you, Kasen. As a hermit, I saw you as someone who was... abandoning humanity. At least, that's how I justified it to myself."

Kasen nods. "And then things went wrong."

"Yes." Hina bows her head, tears starting to trickle down her face. "I realized that Rinnosuke wasn't playing around. That people were getting hurt, and I was helping it all along. I wanted a chance to redeem myself, to make everything right... but it was too late. Rinnosuke grabbed me, and put me... all of us... in that awful machine of his. In the end, I couldn't even do anything to make up for the evil I committed. I had to be rescued by a man I had resolved to protect myself. Hell, I sort of saw him as a follower of sorts... not that it mattered in the end."

Hina is crying now, and looks up at us with red eyes. "And that's really it. That's who I am. A forgotten goddess who can't get people to pay her any mind, who wound up hurting others out of a sick sense of spite. I just came here to say..." she chokes a little bit. "How sorry I am. I'm sorry. So sorry..." Hina's head falls, and she wraps her arms around herself, suddenly looking very small.




That's what's been going on in her head?

I just stare, slack-jawed. Kasen is staring at Hina as well, eyes looking a bit damp as well. Neither of us say anything for a moment.

I mean, what CAN I say...?

[ ] Write-in.
[x] Say nothing.
-[x] Hug the poor thing.
[x] "That's stupid. What you're doing right now is stupid. The crying stuff I mean. Sure life may have dealt you a bad hand, and sure you may have chosen to wallow in self pity instead of trying to fix it. And its also true that Rinnosuke totally suckered you into being his evil minion. Its even true that when shit hit the fan in that mansion you were completely useless. But that's the whole point. You realize now that you made horrible mistakes. That's the whole reason you're here. To improve yourself and make sure your life doesn't suck anymore. So that the next time life gives you lemons you can walk up to life's lemonaid stand, look life straight in the eye, and kick him right in his balls. And maybe walk around town in a bikini afterwards because you'll be just that confident!"

I thought about what Aya would say to try and comfort someone. This is what I came up with.
[x] Hug her.

The music has me in a mood for the gentle option. It's definitely not a bad choice. Can't say if it's the good choice or not.
[x] Hug her.
-[x] "That's stupid. What you're doing right now is stupid. The crying stuff I mean. Sure life may have dealt you a bad hand, and sure you may have chosen to wallow in self pity instead of trying to fix it. And its also true that Rinnosuke totally suckered you into being his evil minion. Its even true that when shit hit the fan in that mansion you were completely useless. But that's the whole point. You realize now that you made horrible mistakes. That's the whole reason you're here. To improve yourself and make sure your life doesn't suck anymore. So that the next time life gives you lemons you can walk up to life's lemonaid stand, look life straight in the eye, and kick him right in his balls. And maybe walk around town in a bikini afterwards because you'll be just that confident!"
[x] Hug her.
-[x] "That's stupid. What you're doing right now is stupid. The crying stuff I mean. Sure life may have dealt you a bad hand, and sure you may have chosen to wallow in self pity instead of trying to fix it. And its also true that Rinnosuke totally suckered you into being his evil minion. Its even true that when shit hit the fan in that mansion you were completely useless. But that's the whole point. You realize now that you made horrible mistakes. That's the whole reason you're here. To improve yourself and make sure your life doesn't suck anymore. So that the next time life gives you lemons you can walk up to life's lemonaid stand, look life straight in the eye, and kick him right in his balls. And maybe walk around town in a bikini afterwards because you'll be just that confident!"

Aya what are you doing you are not good with social checks.
[x] Hug her.
-[x] "That's stupid. What you're doing right now is stupid. The crying stuff I mean. Sure life may have dealt you a bad hand, and sure you may have chosen to wallow in self pity instead of trying to fix it. And its also true that Rinnosuke totally suckered you into being his evil minion. Its even true that when shit hit the fan in that mansion you were completely useless. But that's the whole point. You realize now that you made horrible mistakes. That's the whole reason you're here. To improve yourself and make sure your life doesn't suck anymore. So that the next time life gives you lemons you can walk up to life's lemonaid stand, look life straight in the eye, and kick him right in his balls. And maybe walk around town in a bikini afterwards because you'll be just that confident!"

We Cave Johnson now.
Burn Life's house down! With the lemons!
[x] Hug her.
-[x] "That's stupid. What you're doing right now is stupid. The crying stuff I mean. Sure life may have dealt you a bad hand, and sure you may have chosen to wallow in self pity instead of trying to fix it. And its also true that Rinnosuke totally suckered you into being his evil minion. Its even true that when shit hit the fan in that mansion you were completely useless. But that's the whole point. You realize now that you made horrible mistakes. That's the whole reason you're here. To improve yourself and make sure your life doesn't suck anymore. So that the next time life gives you lemons you can walk up to life's lemonaid stand, look life straight in the eye, and kick him right in his balls. And maybe walk around town in a bikini afterwards because you'll be just that confident!"
Oh no! Crying Hina!
[ ] Spin spin spin!
Maybe this will cheer her up.
[x] Hugs

I think that, for someone like Aya, silence can say much more than words.
[X] Spinning hugs
[x] Hug her
Okay, gonna call it now for a fusion of giving Hina a hug and Aya-style cheering up. Gods help us all.

Update will be in a new thread, by the way.
[x]Hug Hina
-[x]Aya's pep-talk
--[x]Hug Keymaster
File 138007258670.jpg - (234.81KB, 850x971, progress.jpg) [iqdb]
New thread: >>/youkai/22769

...Ahem, correct link is here: >>/youkai/23061
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