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File 138931514094.jpg - (566.66KB, 724x1024, aya and the city.jpg) [iqdb]
25419
Thread 1: >>/youkai/22769
Thread 2: >>/youkai/23061
Thread 3: >>/youkai/23345
Thread 4: >>/youkai/23651
Thread 5: >>/youkai/23942
Thread 6: >>/youkai/24231
Thread 7: >>/youkai/24553
Thread 8: >>/youkai/24863
Thread 9: >>/youkai/25150

----------------------------------

I groan, feeling all of the resistance flow out of me. This is so weird. Why the hell is a girl a fraction of my age so determined that she's my big sister?! And now she's decided to help out my love life?!

Maybe the local Oni have rubbed off on her. That makes sense.

Still, I don't fight it, mainly because Okuu's dragging me towards the very place that I want to go. Maybe she'll get bored and lose interest or something. The only other alternative is to cause some sort of scene, and in a city full of Oni, that seems like a really bad idea, somehow.

At least she's friendly. And a good hugger.

In any case, the two of us land and Okuu hauls me through the door of Big Papa's House of Looooooove and Tacos, into one of the most bizarre and extravagant places I've ever been in my life. It's got flashy decorations. It has a gold-embossed altar. It has a price sheet for various services. Pictures of the Hakurei-Scarlet wedding have a place of honor, declared proof of the power of 'looooooove.' It also has a food counter where containers full of meat and various fixings are stored, along with some sort of crunchy shell.

It's a place that offers weddings, relationship counseling... and something called tacos. Only an Oni would think something up like this. One of the signs says 'Come for a wedding, stay for the tacos! You'll looooooove all of our services!'

I shake my head, trying to clear it from the sheer level of Oni-ness that I'm being confronted with. They even have a special offer on annulments, for crying out loud! 'For that case of looooooove that only comes after a long night of drinking!' I start to think up philosophical arguments against this viewpoint, and give up halfway through. Arguing with Oni never works out well.

As for Okuu, she looks around carefully, then smiles broadly, pointing at one of the figures in the building. "There he is! There's Big Papa!" I follow her gaze.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7PGnvrJlLc)

Big papa is a big Oni. He's decked out in a flashy white suit and top-hat. He's decorated in gold jewellery. He's also wearing an apron over his suit and a floppy chef's hat on top of his top hat. The golden monocle and permanent, broad smile complete the image of an Oni completely happy with his life. Also, he appears to be discussing recipes with Minoriko.

...Wait, what?!

"And that, my lovely chickadee, is why you gotta have JUST the right combination of spices in the meat! Otherwise, the fine soul eating it can't appreciate the flavor!" The big Oni looks devastated by the possibility. "And that simply will not do! No sir! There are two things in life that you gotta savor, ESPECIALLY when they're spicy!" He grins down at Minoriko. "Now, can you guess what they are?"

Minoriko laughs. "Tacos and love?"

Big Papa puts a finger against her lips. "Only half right, my divine little chickadee! Not 'love.' No! That's just some word that falls out of your mouth. You have gotta put your heart and soul into it! You gotta put all of your LOOOOOOOVE into it, do ya get what I am saying?"

Minoriko giggles. "I get your point! Well, let me show you how I like to serve up spicy meat!" The harvest goddess starts gathering some ingredients while OKuu and I watch on. Okuu apparently doesn't want to disturb Big Papa. I'm just trying to reconcile the man I'm seeing with my old memories of the Oni. It isn't working very well.

"...And that's how I do it!" Minoriko declares, holding up a spoon for Big Papa to sample her concoction. The Oni does so, and his eyes go wide with amazement, before rolling back into his skull in sheer pleasure.

The Oni looks down at Minoriko, eyes tearing up with emotion. "My sweet, lovely chickadee of flavor... WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL OF MY LIFE?!" Big Papa laughs heartily. "This is some of the best taste I have ever come across, and I've come across a lot! Were I not devoted to the spread of Looooooove, I might very well ask for your hand right now!" Minoriko just giggles at Big Papa's enthusiasm.

Shizuha smirks. "Trying to steal my sister, are you? You'll have to go through me first, you know."

Big Papa just laughs uproariously. "Ah, but did I not just say that I was otherwise occupied? No, my sweet chickadee, I must spread my philosophy of fine foods and fine Looooooove! There is no time for one such as me to settle down! So you needn't worry about me putting the moves on your lovely sister." He winks at Shizuha. "But I must say, it is a screaming crime that all of the men in the world haven't cast themselves at your feet, pleading for a taste of your Looooooove. A goddess of the arts, are you? Well, just drop my name at the Crafts Market! That'll get the attention of a lot of artisans just crying for a lovely goddess' touch!" He grins broadly. "And maybe one of them will steal your heart, and I'll do some more business with you, yeah?"

Shizuha blushes bright red, helpless before the sheer charm of the massive, jovial Oni. Sukuna peeks out from behind one of Hina's ribbons, where the misfortune goddess is staring at Big Papa in wonderment. Big Papa doesn't fail to notice Sukuna's nervousness, and a hand shoots out to scoop her up. "Now, why is this tiny chickadee being so shy? You got nothing to worry about in this here house of Looooooove... and tacos! Big Papa will look out for you! But I daresay that from what I feel, you got nothing to be scared of, ain't that right my mighty little warrior?"

"Er... but..." Sukuna sputters as she stares up at the huge Oni. "M-my ancestor slew Oni! We're enemies! So how can you..." she trails off as Big Papa falls into merry laughter.

"My sweet little sugar-heart, why so grim? Lotsa bad things happened in the past! Because people were dumb back then! But people learn with time and get smarter, wiser! Now why dwell on such dark times when there's a whole new world full of people to Looooooove out there! It's way better to Looooooove your way through life than to fight and fret, don't you think. And, c'mon." He winks at Sukuna. "WIth all of these lovely ladies around you, can't you think of something better you'd rather do with your time? You're in a house of Looooooove, after all!"

By the end of his speech. Sukuna is smiling and laughing. I can't believe it.

Big Papa sets Sukuna down. "And speaking of lovely ladies!" He turns to Yamame and Hina. "Yamame, my spider chickadee, that outfit is absolutely criminal, and sure to catch the eyes and heart of any sane being with web-strands of Looooooove." He gives her a huge grin and a thumbs-up. "Well done, my fine lady! And you!" He looks at Hina. "A pretty lady with a pretty ribbons and a pretty dress! If you're here looking for Looooooove..." he booms with laughter. "Then things up there are even crazier than I thought! Why has no one scooped you up, huh?"

Yamame and Hina are laughing, blushing at the compliments. It's been ten minutes, and Big Papa has charmed my entire crew.

The big Oni gazes at Hina and Yamame thoughtfully, then steps forward and puts a fatherly arm around each of their shoulders. "Now, this old man has learned a lot in his life. One of those things is how to recognize a love-lorn lady. Now, speak to Big Papa. Tell him what's on your mind, and how this Oni can go about brightening up your life."

Um. Wait...

Hina looks at the ground, jaw working, while Yamame looks off to the side, embarrassed. Big Papa grins at her. "Yamame, my lovely spider-chickadee! How did things turn out for you? I heard you were heading to the surface in search of some Looooooove, were you not?"

...What?!

Yamame looks very awkward at this statement. Hina... glares at her, much to my surprise. Big Papa notices as well, and gives her a fatherly look of reprimand and concern. "Now, what was that negative wave all about, my dear little chickadee?" Hina doesn't respond, only looking away with a frustrated look on her face. Then she sees me.

"Aya!" Hina calls out, looking at Okuu with an unreadable expression. The hell raven still has my hand in her grip.

"Hi!" Okuu says cheerfully, waving back. "I'm Okuu! I'm Aya's big sister!"

This gets a few stares from my companions, and a merry smile from Big Papa. The big Oni starts to stride over with a huge smile on his face. Well, huger than normal. "Lovely Okuu! The mightiest chickadee of all! Tell me, how many hearts have you captured today, eh?" Okuu just giggles happily. Then the Oni's eyes settle on me, and his brows rise so high that his monocle nearly falls out. "And who do we have here?! The little chickadee responsible for the best day of my life, that's who!"

I blink. "What?"

Big Papa laughs yet again. "Why, little Shameimaru, if it weren't for you, that magnificent wedding might never have come to pass, and those two ladies might never have warmed to the power of Looooooove! You brought two souls together, and brought me to the surface! Whatever else happens, you got my friendship!"

...Little Shameimaru?

Big Papa claps his hand down on my shoulder. "So! You here seeking some Looooooove to soothe your wounded heart?" He winks at me. "Or maybe some advice? I am a WIZARD at affairs of the heart, my little crowy!"

Little crowy...

"Um... Thanks, but I'm not really sure... I mean..." I'm totally lost here and I don't know what to do, and this huge, bombastic Oni is only making things worse. I mean, come on! The two causes of my confusion are right over there! I... don't want to be embarrassed in front of them...

Big Papa just laughs joyously. And then-

Whoa hey what?! He's picked me up into a big bear hug and is spinning me around so fast that my feet are flying out and we're going around and around and around and Big Papa's laughing like he's having the best day ever and something about this is tickling the back of my mind...

"C'mon, lil' Shammy! Open up to your old pal, willya?"

Lil' Shammy.

A huge Oni. Always laughing. Always roaring. Massive and powerful, none ever dared to challenge him for fear of his incredible strength. Even among Oni, he was a legend for his sheer elemental power, and the fear he induced even among his own kind. And this being had taken a liking to me, always hanging around me and giving me orders, forcing alcohol on me as a reward. This was back in those days that I can barely remember, when tengu and Oni didn't walk quite as men. But the sheer, overwhelming PRESENCE triggers something in the back of my mind, and memories of booming laughter and a gigantic smile bring with it the outlines of a face, and a name-

......

......

......

I stare at the Oni holding me. "PAPPORO?!"

And Big Papporo laughs endlessly, hugging me joyously like a long-lost relative.


[ ] Oh no.
[ ] Oh fuck.
[ ] Oh... hey...
[ ] Oh, time to faint.
[X] Oh fuck YES.

I think you overdid the LOOOOOOOVE a bit, but then again it's freaking Big Papa, who is apparently an ancient and powerful Oni turned matchmaker.

I'm okay with this.
File 138931730117.png - (50.45KB, 627x620, a0015277_5154f20939ae6.png) [iqdb]
25422
...what
I mean...
[X] ...what
[x] Oh... hey...

I imagine that to Aya this situation is kinda like going to a club with your new friends only to be greeted joyously by the bully who made your life hell back in high school. Worse, all your friends seem to like him.

I picked this option because all the other options seem various levels of oh god fuck no, while this one is just a half-hearted greeting.

Not voting for >>25421 because I don't think it quite fits the situation. Considering the voting options, I don't think Aya is all that fond of their time together.
[X] Oh, time to faint.

If there was any time for the anemia option, it would be now.
[X] Oh, time to faint.

This has been a long time coming I think. Aya's worldview is spinning around so much it's a wonder she isn't staggering around everywhere like she was drunk.
[X] Oh, time to faint.
[x] Oh... hey...

Never go full anemia.
[x] Oh... hey...
[X] Oh, time to faint.
[X] Oh, time to faint.

I like to think of fainting as the mind's way of saying "Nope, not gonna deal with this right now, time to take five!"

Yeah, real-world fainting doesn't work that way. Sue me.
[x] Oh... hey...
[x] Oh, time to faint.

And flights of ravens sing thee to thy rest.
[x] Oh... hey...

Uh. Hi. I guess.

What
[x] Oh... hey...

Fainting is boring.
[x] Oh, hey...

Enough weakness!
[x] Oh... Hey...

I imagine it's a sort of half-anemia option. She's not out cold, but not completely there either. Just kinda stunned with all that's happening.
[x] Oh... Hey...
We did the fainting thing already. Enough of that, Aya's a shrine maiden of goddesses of change now. If anything she should be learning to take strength from and be excited by stuff like this.
[X] Oh... hey...

I had a thought, and then it was overwritten by MGRR. Sorry.
[x] Oh... hey...

This was unexpected, and (when this was posted) an interesting birthday present for me.
[x] Oh... Hey...
>[ ] Oh... hey...
Let me see if I got this right. Papporo and the rest of the Oni managed to do a 180° turn since they were last around a bajillion years ago, and yet the Tengu have stayed mostly the same during the same time.
Minus the constant fear of Oni, that is.

Where the hell did the Tengu go wrong? Is it because of the Oni not having a centralised, conservative leadership?
>>25441
You got it in one.

No vote from me, I'll just sit back and watch.
[x] Oh... Hey...

>>25441

I think Aya mentioned back when she met the Oni gentlemen and after her brain BSoD'd that it was the Oni's sheer zeal and zest in life that caused them to keep progressing forward and changing, even after they went underground. Sure they're still fundamentally Oni, but they're a lot more refined.
>>25441
I think it had something to with the illusion of superiority, which might have been true once, but now these days everyone else is momens away from passing them up, including the Oni who likely never had such notions of "superiority" and just lived life like they wanted.
[x] Oh... hey...

Yeah we've done enough fainting. I'm real interested in the past these two have.
[x] Oh... Hey...
'Oh... hey...' takes it by a landslide. Vote called!
File 138940307341.jpg - (213.88KB, 850x850, things change.jpg) [iqdb]
25448
"Oh..." I say weakly as one of the nightmares from my past hugs me like a teddy-bear. "Hey..." It's about all I can manage. Incidentally, Papporo is now petting me like a cat.

"You two know each other?!" Okuu squawks, looking on at the scene in astonishment.

Papporo... or Big Papa, I guess, laughs as he sets me on the ground, arm slung around my shoulder companionably. "Okuu, my dear chickadee, Lil' Shammy and me go way, WAY back! So long, I can barely remember it! Hell, it's been so damn long, that I didn't even recognize her when I saw back at the wedding!" He taps my nose. "No beak, or feathers on the face, know what I mean?"

"Yeah... I didn't recognize you either," I say weakly. What with the lack of screams of terror and all. The overwhelming presence I wasn't really paying attention to, given that I had other things on my mind at the moment, such as an angry, drunken loli-vampire.

"Much has indeed changed in us all over the many years," Big Papa says cheerfully. "My, how time has changed us all! But little crow, look at you! You went and turned into a beautiful lady on me without me even noticing! How in all of the world did that happen, huh?!"

"Eh... it's just been a while. Things change," I chuckle weakly. Including Big Papporo, it would seem. I mean, a chef? A marriage counselor?!

Hina gives me a concerned look. "Um, Hina? You look a bit overwhelmed. Do you need a minute to let the world catch up to you?"

"How about you sit down and have a drink?" Yamame puts in, also looking worried. This nets her an icy glare from Hina, which momentarily grabs my attention. What the heck is happening between them? Yamame has to notice that look, but she's visibly ignoring it. Meanwhile, Mino, Shizu, and Sukuna are all looking on... but pointedly not getting involved. Did I miss something?

Then Big Papa laughs again, and my attention is forcibly returned to the huge being currently hugging me to his side. Like a pet. Like he used to. I liked Okuu's hug better.

"Now, now, you two! There's no need to worry about a couple of old friends reuniting after about a bazillion years apart, now is there?" Big Papa grins wide. "So, how's about you sweet little chickadees all have a seat and have some fine tacos- on the house!" He pats my shoulder. "Lil' Shammy and me have some serious reuniting to do after all this time! Hey, Okuu!" The hell raven stands up straight at her name. "Have spider-chickadee and our Lady of Fortune sit down and fill their bellies, would ya? I daresay they got a big day ahead of them, I do!"

Okuu actually salutes. "Sure thing, Big Papa!" The next moment, the hell raven is dragging Yamame and Hina over to a table while they sputter in protest. Almost mirroring this event, Big Papa is steering me towards the back of his shop, all while the Aki sisters and Sukuna look on solemnly. Well, maybe not solemn.

Baffled! That's the word for their expressions! Gods know that's how I feel.

Shortly, Big Papa and I are in the back room of his shop, and he lets go of my shoulder, turning me around to face him. "Lil' Shammy..." he says wonderingly. "Huh. Would ya believe that I had no idea who you were at first? Missy Meiling had to explain it all to me, and then I KNEW. I remembered you, even after all of those years had passed. Funny ol' world, yeah?"

I grimace. "Yeah. Yeah it is." I wonder what happens now. He orders me around? Pours sake down my throat? Makes me sit and listen to him rant on about how great is? That was pretty much his repertoire, and Papporo did it all of the damned time.

Instead, Big Papa gives me a surprisingly gentle smile. Slowly, he takes off his bizarre hat, his monocle, and his apron, and sets them down on a counter. Calmly, the big Oni goes to sit down on a box marked 'Fixins.' I fold my arms and stare at him, wondering what happens next.

"You ain't happy to see me." I blink at Papporo's statement. It wasn't a question, more of an acknowledgement. And he's still giving me that same gentle smile... but now it's tinged with a bit of sadness.

I know better than to lie to an Oni. "No," I say flatly. "No, I'm not happy to see you, Big Papporo."

The Oni in white chuckles gently. "No kiddin'. I could tell right off. Not that I can blame you." Papporo heaves a huge sigh. "I'm sorry."

I blink. "For what?"

Papporo looks at me earnestly. "Everything. I'm sorry I treated you like a pet instead of a person. I'm sorry I ordered you around all of the time. I'm sorry I treated you like a slave and humiliated you all the time. Basically... I'm sorry for every last moment of our association, Aya."

THAT gets my attention. Papporo has never used my name before. He's only used pet names to refer to me, like Lil' Shammy , or little crow. But the sad, earnest smile I'm getting form him tells me that Big Papporo means every word that he's saying. Not that Oni ever lie, of course.

I just stare at him. "...What the hell happened to you, Papporo?"

Big Papporo sighs, the smile fading from his face. "Do me a favor, Aya? Don't call me that name. Please?"

"Why not?" I ask.

He looks at me. "'Cuz it reminds me of all the other stuff I'm really sorry about. The stuff I can't take back, no matter what." I don't respond. I have no idea how to respond. This is nothing like what I was expecting. Papporo... or Big Papa, rather, heaves another sigh. "I tried to forget, too. Never could, though. I still remember all of the shit that I did, way back in the day. Bad stuff, y'hear? And I thought it was great. Alla that fightin' and raidin.' And the terrorizin'? Heh, just what an Oni's supposed to do, am I right?"

"What changed?" I ask quietly.

Big Papa shrugs. "I captured a girl this one time, figured I'd have some fun with her. That's what we did back in the day, you know? She wouldn't stop cryin'. These huge, soul-crushing sobs, that made her whole body shake. And no matter how loud I yelled at her, she just wouldn't quit. Called out for her Mommy, her Daddy... her man." Big Papa sighs. "That was the first time I ever felt bad about something in my life. A good case of guilt. Never felt it before, and I didn't like the feel of it, not one bit."

"A guilty Oni," I say incredulously.

"I know, right?!" Big Papa throws his hands up in disbelief. "But there's more! Her man comes along to get her back, I still dunno how he got to my place without bein' seen. And he tells me that he's taking her back. I start laughing at him, 'cuz now I'm back on solid ground, ya know? And then.... then..." Big Papa goes quiet, gaze looking back on some distant time.

"Then what?" I ask, wondering just what could possibly affect Big Papa so deeply.

The Oni looks at me. "He told me he hated me. That he hated all Oni. That all of the humans hated us, and wanted us to die. That we ruined their lives, that we ruined everything, and that the world would be better if we all died. That's what he told me. And he meant every word." Big Papa shakes his head. "What could I say to that? Nothing. Nothing at all. Not even one tiny little word."

I stare. Big Papporo... feeling remorse? "What did you do?" I ask.

He shrugs. "I let 'em go. Then I sat down and did a lot of thinking. When we came down here, I did a lot more thinking. Actually, a whole bunch of us were thinking things over. And we kinda figured something out after a while." Big Papa shrugs. "Us Oni were a big bunch of jerks. Kinda sucked to figure that one out."

I feel my jaw hang open. "You... started to feel bad about all of the stuff you were doing?"

"I know, right?!" Big Papa tosses his hands up in the air again. "I mean, us Oni do what we want! That's how it always was! Except... when you think about it, it kinda sucks to have everyone hate your guts. We didn't like that. So we kinda sat around and moped for a while."

I look around. "Looks like you guys got better eventually."

Big Papa shrugs. "Well, yeah. I mean, sure we went and screwed things up a bit. But what's done is done, and we can't change what we did. But we could change what we did from then on. I mean, look at me." Big Papa gestures to himself. "I was a jerk of an Oni who scared the stuffing out of everybody and screwed up people's lives. So what could I do? Why, none other than make people's lives better! How's the best way to make a life better? By warming their heart! And the best way to the heart is through the stomach! And that's how I became a chef!"

I struggle to follow Big Papa's logic. I'm succeeding, which scares me a little bit.

"Anyway, after a while, I helped a friend of mine patch up a scrap he had with his girl, and that's when I realized the sheer power of Looooooove! And I dedicated myself to it with all of my heart! And hey! It works! That's why I changed from Big Papporo the brute to Big Papa, messenger of Looooooove and Tacos!" He grins, pleased with himself.

"Why tacos?" I say blankly.

Big Papa shrugs. "I like tacos. Anyway, the point is that I can't change what I did. I regret it, and I wish I could change things. But I can't, 'cause all of that brought me to where I am today. So, the best thing I can do is remember what happened and use it as soul-fuel to move on. And that's what I do every single day. It's what all of us Oni do! Keep on moving no matter what, that's how an Oni does things!" Big Papa nods to himself firmly.

...And that's it. The Oni wallowed in regret for a while, and eventually just... moved on. Damn.

There's a long moment of silence as I take in Big Papa's story and think about my own. The Oni are far from innocent, but they're moving on with their lives. I don't know whether to hate them for it or envy them. This is almost bigger than I can reason through.

"Hey, Aya." I look up to see Big Papa giving me a serious look. "I am really, truly sorry for everything I did. Can you ever forgive this poor fool?"

......


[ ]Can you?
[x] "Of course. We're not too different, you and I. If other people can forgive me for the wrongs I've done, the least I can do is do the same for you."
[X] You give me some advice on this little crow's loooooove life and one of your best tacos and we'll call it good.

I don't think I'm treating this situation with the full respect that it deserves but fuck it. I'd like to see some of the fun loving Aya come back, and what better way to do that than with Big Papa?
>[x]Can you?

[x] Yes, I can. I've done a lot of bad things, deeds I now regret. The events just before and during the wedding were simply the culmination of everything. But I'm trying to change, and have asked those I've wronged to forgive me. How can I NOT be willing to forgive?"

Man, this is getting DEEP.
[x] "Of course. We're not too different, you and I. If other people can forgive me for the wrongs I've done, the least I can do is do the same for you."
-[x]"Just... don't take it too personal if I still end up flinching every now and then."
[x] "Of course. We're not too different, you and I. If other people can forgive me for the wrongs I've done, the least I can do is do the same for you."
-[x]"Just... don't take it too personal if I still end up flinching every now and then."
[x] I too did terrible things. And to forget them, I made moré.
Of course I forgive you! You moved on- it's about time I do the same.
[x] "Of course. We're not too different, you and I. If other people can forgive me for the wrongs I've done, the least I can do is do the same for you."
-[x]"Just... don't take it too personal if I still end up flinching every now and then."
[x] "Of course. We're not too different, you and I. If other people can forgive me for the wrongs I've done, the least I can do is do the same for you."
-[x]"Just... don't take it too personal if I still end up flinching every now and then."

Damn Straight, and Big Papa is now officially MORE awesome.
[x] "Of course. We're not too different, you and I. If other people can forgive me for the wrongs I've done, the least I can do is do the same for you."
-[x]"Just... don't take it too personal if I still end up flinching every now and then."
[x] Share a drink with each other. Not as an 'owner' and 'pet', but as Equals.
[x] "Of course. We're not too different, you and I. If other people can forgive me for the wrongs I've done, the least I can do is do the same for you."
-[x]"Just... don't take it too personal if I still end up flinching every now and then."
[x] Share a drink with each other. Not as an 'owner' and 'pet', but as equals.

This scene really managed to touch my heart. Well done Keymaster. That being said however;

>Hina gives me a concerned look. "Um, Hina? You look a bit overwhelmed. Do you need a minute to let the world catch up to you?"

You should probably stop talking to yourself Hina. It's not good for your public image, you know?
[x] "Of course. We're not too different, you and I. If other people can forgive me for the wrongs I've done, the least I can do is do the same for you."
-[x]"Just... don't take it too personal if I still end up flinching every now and then."
[x] Share a drink with each other. Not as an 'owner' and 'pet', but as equals.
>>25458

...ffffffffFFFFFFFFFFF-

There are no typos here. These are not the droids you're looking for. There's no need to check my identification. You can go about your business. Move along!
[x] "Of course. We're not too different, you and I. If other people can forgive me for the wrongs I've done, the least I can do is do the same for you."
-[x]"Just... don't take it too personal if I still end up flinching every now and then."
[x] Share a drink with each other. Not as an 'owner' and 'pet', but as equals.


This sounds good. If others are to forgive you, you must be prepared to forgive others.
His story is a good example of why the Oni are more progressive: they try to atone for their pasts instead of whitewashing them. (In canon the Oni did go underground of their own free will)
Calling vote now!
File 138948570563.jpg - (110.81KB, 850x850, aya got game.jpg) [iqdb]
25465
I close my eyes and breathe deeply. The desire to rebuff him is there. Who does this jackass think he is? After bullying me and controlling me for gods know how long, all of a sudden he wants to ask for a clean slate and pretend that nothing happened? He made my life, and the lives of many others, a sheer hell! There is absolutely no reason why I should have anything to do with this guy!

It's that hypocritical part of me that I really hate sometimes.

In truth... I envy Papporo. Or rather, Big Papa. He knows that he made mistakes. He regrets them, sure, but he also refuses to be tied down by his past. After sitting down and mourning his past errors, Big Papa just got back up and continued on with life. It's a good way of going about things, and one that I wish I'd figured out a long time ago.

Our circumstances don't matter. In the end, Big Papa and I both realized that the way we were living our lives was causing harm to people, and resolved to change things. We've even sought forgiveness from those we wronged. Having just made apologies to all of Gensokyo, who am I to hold a grudge?

A breathe out, releasing my tension and the past at the same time. I look at Big Papa, still giving me a solemn look, and let I smile cross my face. "Of course I forgive you. I mean, you and I? We're the same. We've both made mistakes that hurt people, sometimes people we wanted to be friends with. And we want to be forgiven."

Big Papa smiles as I take a seat next to him. "Yeah. I reckon that to be the case, huh?"

I nod. "The way I see it, if people can forgive me for the wrongs I've committed in the past, then the least I could do is to forgive you, too." I laugh weakly. "Just, um, try not to take it too personally if I flinch a little bit around you. Old habits die hard, you know?"

Big Papa chortles. "Gods' own truth? A lot of the boys down here still cringe a little bit when I walk by. I mean, they don't let it get to them, but these are folks who still remember the old, blood-soaked me. I don't hold it against them, and I won't hold it against you... Aya."

I smile as Big Papa uses my name and gently pat him on the shoulder. In response, he gently puts an arm around my shoulders and pulls an old a bottle of sake from... somewhere. "Join me for a drink?" He pauses. "Not a big one. I ain't got anything to prove here, see?"

I laugh. "There isn't a tengu alive who can outdrink an Oni," I observe.

Big Papa shrugs has he pours a couple of cups. "The way I remember, Tenma did a pretty good job back in the day."

I sigh, taking my own cup. "I wish he still had that kind of endurance. The man spends all his time in his cups these days. Has for centuries."

Big Papa frowns. "Now whatever brought such a thing upon such a strong man, hm?"

I shake my head. "Ancient history. I'd rather not get into it." I take a sip of my sake. It's good stuff, sweet and smooth, but still warming my throat.

Big Papa nods in understanding. "Fair enough, that. I'd rather talk about something more important, at least to me. The subject of Looooooove!"

I cut my eyes over at him. "You know, you're kinda overdoing it on that looooooove bit."

He rubs his neck in embarrassment. "Eh, sorry about that. Kinda my thing, you know? But I'll knock it off for you. In private. Even if it does lose some of the impact." He shakes his head ruefully, then fixes me with an intense stare. "Aya, my dear, I can tell that you are in desperate need of love."

I freeze, staring up at him in terror.

"...I'm not offerin'," he clarifies, and I slump in relief. A night with an Oni is about enough to cripple you; those guys do not hold back. "No, all I mean is that I can tell that that you really, really need some sweet love in your life."

"Don't need to tell me twice," I mutter.

Big Papa nods sagely. "Just so. And I don't mean a random jump in the hay with any odd fella or lady. No, you need some real love in your life. Which brings me to my next question: what's goin' on between you, spider-lass, and our Lady of Misfortune?"

I lower my cup, not meeting his eyes.

"I mean, I'm pretty sure Yamame was looking for a good time with you," Big Papa continues, "And that Hina lady was glaring daggers at her, and then at Okuu, just for being near ya. I can put two and two together. So I ask again, my little crow friend: what's the deal?"

...Yamame was looking to hook up with me? No, that's beside the point right now. Taking a deep breath, I spill my heart to Big Papa. He's the expert after all.

For a wonder, the Oni just listens. He doesn't interrupt, except to encourage me to talk a little more. He keeps his eyes on my own, carefully recording every detail that I share with him. I talk about Hina, and my feelings for her. I talk about Yamame, and the sheer lust that the spider awakens in me. I talk about how afraid I am to approach either one. And when I'm done, the big Oni nods, thoughtful and considering.

"So, lemme see if I can sum all this up," Big Papa muses. "Your heart yearns to be closer to Miss Hina... but you have needs that have to be fulfilled, itches that need to be scratched, and you don't know if she's up for it." I nod silently. Big Papa pats me on the shoulder. "That's a valid concern, Aya. Some people, like you, need to be touched, to be appreciated physically. There ain't no shame in that, it's just how you are. And it could be something that cuts the bond between you two before it even starts. But on the other hand, you have Yamame." Big Papa shakes is head. "I can see why she sets you on fire. That girl knows how to work what she's got, and you'd have to be dead inside not to want some of that! Except, while the spider can scratch your itch, she doesn't hold your heart in your hand."

"Pretty much." I sigh unhappily. "The obvious thing to do is just run around and get it all out of my system... but I don't want to screw around on Hina and risk ruining things with her. Besides, I don't just want sex. I want... need... something more."

"But there are some other needs wrapped up in that," Big Papa notes. "Yeah, I read your problem, loud and clear. But I want you to consider something." The Oni looks me in the eyes. "You don't know that Hina doesn't have an itch of her own. You see her as being this perfect, porcelain lady, but I hear she's made some big mistakes of her own. And you never know what she secretly wants, deep inside."

I think about this. Could Hina have desires of her own? After living alone on a mountain for years... maybe? But I guess I just haven't seen her as being that way before. Then again, one doesn't have to be an uninhibited pervert to want a little passion in their life.

"And then there's our Yamame," Big Papa continues. "You only see her as a sexy pair of legs, with some great T&A. Which she has, no argument. But think about it: a woman like that, headin' up topside for a little action? What would drive her to do something like that? And with a reputation like hers, do you think she has friends coming out of the woodwork?"

That makes me pause. Yamame has always seemed like such a social, outgoing woman. But she always seems desperate to assure people that she isn't a threat to their health. Also, while confined I remember hearing some reports of her trying to be a hero, along the lines of DyCirno. But I've seen nothing of the sort since getting free. What is going on with Yamame?

"...What you're saying, is that each of them is a lot more complex that I'm giving them credit for, and I need to recognize that," I say slowly. Big Papa nods, looking pleased at my insight. "So what do I do?"

The big Oni crosses his arms. "Well... the way I see things, you're gonna be here for a while, right?" I nod. "In that case, you got a couple of things on your plate. You need to help your goddesses advertise. You need to talk, and I mean TALK, with both Hina and Yamame. And you need to get your heart straight."

I sigh deeply. "And how do I do that? I ask plaintively.

Big Papa grins. "The first things you gotta realize is that you are, in fact, a top-class, desirable lady, something you seem to have forgotten." He stands up. "And it seems to fall to me to remind you."

I stand up, eying Big Papa warily. "How's that, exactly?"

A huge grin breaks across his face. "I have in my possession a few old clothes that would fit a tengu lady. A few modification, and they'll fit you just fine. A few pointers on how to carry yourself, and how to work the outfit, and I think that you'll see some very nice responses. See, Aya, the best hunter doesn't need to run and bring down her prey. She lures the prey to her." Putting a fatherly arm around my shoulder, Big Papa leads me to one of the rooms out back, and digs out a tengu robe for me to wear. A few strokes with the needle and thread, and it fits me perfectly. Next up comes a little coaching, and by the end, I have to laugh.

Whatever else might be going on in his huge head, Big Papa knows his stuff.

*******************************************

"Sorry I'm late~!" I sing out, pitching my voice deep, with just a hint of seductiveness in it. My friends look up, gathered around one of the tables in the room. According to Big Papa, Okuu had been keeping them occupied with conversation and helping them plan out their moves. Still, they'd been wondering what I was doing out back.

My appearance serves to... surprise them, I should think.

The outfit I'm wearing is a traditional tengu women's robe, but with some careful alterations. The belt around my waist is tighter, and made of thinner material, emphasizing both my slender waist and my bust. The sleeves hang loosely on thick threads, exposing the sides of my torso and my shoulders to the air. The top is spread open wide, keeping everything important in place while still showing off my cleavage. Long, tight gloves and stockings encase my arms and legs, somehow drawing attention to those places that are otherwise covered up. The divided skirt around my waist is a masterful bit of needle work, with my thighs and even a tantalizing hint of my hips shown to the world, but everything is stitched together so carefully that somebody hoping for a glimpse of something more will be sorely disappointed.

But that's just cloth. It's the look that's most important, and Big Papa cut to the chase quite easily. In his words, I am a proud, confident Tengu woman. So act like it.

And I do.

I stride forward confidently, back kept straight, head high, a teasing smile on my lips. But at the same time, I let my arms swing loosely at my sides, hips swaying and letting the material flow around my legs like a waterfall. Neither loose and casual, nor a Tengu with a stick up her butt. Just a woman, proud and happy with life and enjoying every moment of it.

Their reactions are very telling.

Minoriko and Shizuha stare at me, clearly wondering what the hell happened to me back there. Okuu claps her hands together and squeals with excitement, clearly dazzled by my transformation. Sukuna's eyes bulge nearly out of her head, clearly having no idea where to put them. Yamame gapes at me, eyes wide. Hina's face is as red as her dress, and she can't seem to take her eyes off of me.

I'm loving every minute of this.

Deliberately, I lean over the table. I can almost feel Big Papa's smile behind me. "So, what's the plan?" I ask with a smile.

For a moment, the response is stunned silence. Then, Shizuha coughs and starts pointing to a rough map of the city. "Well, we've come to a few conclusions. Yamame's suggestion for places to visit are perfectly valid, and would help us out. The Great Market and batting range have a lot of people who'd listen to all of us. I might personally have some more success if we go to the Crafts Market, but there's no reason we can't visit everything eventually. We can leave the museum for later, but hitting up a few of the better known establishments might be a good way to drum up business."

"Places like the Crazy Wombat and the Laughing Oni," Okuu puts in.

Shizuha nods. "Of course, it may work better if we go to those places later on. In any case, visiting here has already put the word out about us." She raises an eyebrow. "Especially Minoriko. She keeps hitting the cooking range and blessing the food that comes out of it." Mino, for her part, looks quite proud of herself.

"So, in other words, we need to figure our where to head first," I say. Shizuha nods. The others don't respond, still a little taken aback by my outfit and demeanor. I think I notice Hina trying not to look down my top, and Yamame seems dazzled by me. It feels good.

So. A bunch of prospects for places to visits in the city, and we might need to take a day or two to wander around. Hm. And I also need to get Yamame and Hina away from the group at some point and talk with them, but I can probably swing that as we make our rounds. So the next question is: where to first?


[ ] The Great Market
[ ] The Crafts Market
[ ] The batting range
[ ] The Crazy Wombat
[ ] The Laughing Oni
[x] The Crafts Market

I want to see just what kinds of crafts the Oni make for pleasure. We've already seen their business side, what with making the Mikami shrine and rebuilding the city after drunken brawls (an often occurrence).
[jk] Meiling End.

Seriously, though, my opinion of Big Papa just jumped a few notches.

Aya, too.
[x] The Great Market
Fortune first.
[X] The Crafts Market
and keep an eye out for a chance to talk with the romantic interests, both of them.
[x] Great Market.

Step one: get people to notice the Mikami by appearing among them and introducing themselves. I'm torn between the Great Market and the Batting Range because I'm worried the Great Market has too much happening that the Mikami might get drowned out, and the Batting Range might not have too many people or people who just want peace and quiet. Once they start getting noticed, let the three stand out on their own for a while: Minoriko hangs out near where the farmers' market is in order to increase presence among people producing food and people looking to create food, Shizuha goes to the Crafts Market to get to know the artists, and Hina... well, probably in a place where people need luck or reassurance about their misfortune.
[x] The Crafts Market

A really high note you've hit Keymaster! My only criticism is that Big Papa's big regret seemed to fall a little short of what I was expecting but it's still awesome, this CYOA.
[x] The Great Market
[x] The Crafts Market

I wonder if a Hina/Yamame end is possible.
Aaaaaand we have a tie. Next vote takes it.
[x] The Crafts Market
Reporting for tie-breaker duty
>>25475

Thanks you, good sir! It's off to the Crafts Market!
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I mull it over for a while. Personally, I agree with Shizuha that we should leave the various bars and whatnot until later. Maybe regard them as a way to meet with prospective worshipers a bit after the fact, and solidify the underground's opinion of the Mikami. Also, the batting range might be a bit sparse, so that leaves one of the markets. And given that her sister has apparently gotten a lot of attention, it might be nice for Shizuha to nab some faith. Add in to that the fact that I want to get Hina alone to talk to her (along with Yamame), and my choice seems clear. Still, better clarify.

"Hey, Okuu? What's the Crafts Market like?" I look over at the hell raven, who straightens up at my question.

"Oh, it's really neat!" she enthuses. "The Oni have a lot of neat stuff for sale there; everything from handicrafts, to rugs, to paintings..."

Sukuna manages to tear her eyes away from me, looking interested. "Really? I kinda wonder what sorts of crafts an Oni would make."

"It's a good spot," Big Papa rumbles. "A bit quieter than the main market, but it has a lot of people going through it in the run of a day."

I nod. "That's perfect, then! There'll be a lot of people to hear what we have to say, but it won't be so crowded that we can't get their attention." I look over at Shizuha. "Let's head over to the Crafts Market to start with."

The Aki sisters nod and get to their feet, while Sukuna hops up onto my shoulder. The inchling gives me a broad, blushing smile. "Aya, I don't know where you got it, but I love that outfit!"

I wink back and strike a pose. "I think it suits me, myself!" Sukuna just giggles happily, and I hear someone cough behind me. Looking over, I notice that both Hina and Yamame are heading to the door, leaving no clue as to who reacted to me. Hmm.

As Okuu scrambles over to lead the spider and the misfortune goddess, Big Papa gives me an encouraging wink and heads over to help some customers. This leaves me alone with Shizu, Mino, and Sukuna. Minoriko looks me up and down, and whistles appreciatively. "Not bad, Aya! What happened, decided to step up your game?"

"Something like that," I shrug. "So, same question to you two. What happened?" I nod over to where Hina and Yamame are visible out the front window. Okuu is excitedly talking to them, but both Yamame and Hina are studiously ignoring each other. "You can almost cut the tension between them with a butter knife."

Minoriko shrugs, and Shizuha frowns. "Honestly... we're not too sure. After we left the Palace and started heading for this place, Hina took Yamame aside and started talking to her. It got awfully heated, and Hina looked really angry. Yamame didn't look too impressed either. Since then, those two have been giving each other the cold shoulder." She gives me a searching gaze, mirrored by her sister. "I wonder what could have happened?" There's a bit of suspicion beneath that question, but I choose not to address it.

"What do you think, Sukuna?" I ask the inchling on my shoulder. I turn my head to notice that Sukuna is currently taking a good, long look down my cleavage while desperately trying to force her gaze away. "And stop that."

"S-sorry!" Sukuna sputters in apology. "I mean, you're dressed like that, and you look so good, and they're right there, and I, I... sorry." She bows her head. "I'll try to do better."

Actually, I'm a bit flattered. It shows that the outfit and poise are doing their job, after all! But there's a difference between appreciation and outright leering, and Sukuna has yet to find that balance. Besides, I need to be consistent with her. So, I pat the inchling on the head and speak to her firmly. "I appreciate the compliment, but you have to learn how to treat a lady. Make a woman feel good when you look at her, not like a piece of meat, got it?"

Sukuna nods seriously and springs over to perch on Minoriko's cap. From there, she keeps cutting her eyes at me, a blush still visible on her face. I chuckle a little bit. I think that's the best I'm going to get for a while. Shaking my head ruefully, I confidently lead the way out of the House of Looooooove and Tacos and gather up the rest of my friends outside. Then, Okuu leads the way to the underground city's Crafts Market.

***************************************************

Now, I've never regarded the Oni as being the most creative of peoples. Really, when I think of the Oni, what comes to mind is drinking and brawling. Maybe a heavy wooden club and animal hide clothing, the occasional rough fortress of stone. But then, the Oni have clearly had centuries to change their ways. Yamame's craftsmen are pretty good examples of that. My personal theory is that centuries underground with nothing to do made the Oni seek out different pastimes than just drinking and fighting. Inevitably, some of them would have turned their hands to finer arts, and they would have had the time to perfect such things.

The Crafts Fair is the perfect example of this. According to Okuu, it's a separate division of the Great Market, which can be seen (and heard) in the distance. Not exactly sedate, the Crafts Market nonetheless has a somewhat classier feel to it than the rest of the city. Here, well-dressed Oni (and a few other youkai that I can't identify) call out their wares to passers-by. With wide smiles, they present intricately carved gold and silver ornaments, jewelry embedded with precious stones, carpets, drapes and clothing embroidered with endless complexity. Some of the pricier stuff looks like something that the elders would give their teeth to wear.

"I make some of the fabrics that they use," Yamame says proudly. "It's all in the wrist, but carefully woven earth-spider silk is really easy to dye, and makes clothing that's both rugged and comfortable." The others murmur in interest at this. Except for Hina, who seems to be trying to pretend that Yamame doesn't exist right now.

Beyond that are any number of objects both practical and luxurious. Well-carved furniture of both stone and wood abounds, as do mechanical gizmos that were apparently imported from the kappa. Decorative paintings and other objects are on sale for prices ranging from affordable to horrifying. The details vary as well. Some glorify combat, while others have designs meant to soothe and calm the observer. Just about anything hand-made can be found here, and from time to time smells from the great market drift over, making the whole place seem even more exotic and exciting.

I'm conscious of a few stares coming my way, but let it roll off of me. Honestly, I'm still not perfectly comfortable with this. It's hard not to be self-aware when you're trying to show off a little bit, but I keep catching Yamame and Hina sneaking peeks at me, which makes it all worthwhile. I... like feeling desirable, I find. Maybe it's always been a matter of finding a balance between self-respect and screaming for attention.

Then again, there are more than a few people looking at my hat and geta, then at my wings, and muttering to each other. Whispers of 'Tengu' echo around every so often, though he stares seem more curious than anything else. Come to think of it, I'm probably the first Tengu to ever visit the city. It's likely no surprise that they're curious.

In any case, this is the Crafts Market. Big, bustling, and full of the fruits of the underground's abundant creativity. The question is, how to take advantage of it?

I glance over at Shizuha. "What do you think?"

The leaf goddess nods slowly. "I can work with this. Some of the techniques used here obviously make use of a natural aging process. I can help with that, make it more accurate and thorough. Other artists seem to be stressed out and could use some calm contemplation, or some inspiration to reach greater heights. I can work with all of this. I honestly think that I could do some good here."

I look around at some of the merchants. There are even musicians and book-sellers plying their trade in the Market. Plenty of room to do some good. The question is, how do we introduce the Mikami? A goddess of the arts, like Shizuha, would do the most good here, but once we have our foot in the door we can likely introduce Minoriko and Hina as well. The question is, as always, how?


[ ] Make a pitch in the middle of the market.
[ ] Make a pitch to an individual merchant, and let word spread.
[ ] Start making audible commentary, and let people come to you.
[ ] Write-in your own strategy.

The more creative your strategy, the better things work out for the Mikami!
[x] Find costumes for the Mikami, then put on a song-and-dance stage show. Yamame and Sukuna can join in if they want, but make sure Shizuha gets the spotlight.

GODDESS IDOLS GOGOGOGO
[x] Make a pitch to an individual merchant, and let word spread.

Let's wait to do MikoMikoIdol times.
[x] Make a pitch to an individual merchant, and let word spread.

While letting everyone hear is all well and good, they might just think of us as a street preacher, and those are often ignored. Word of mouth is the best way to go.
[x] Make a pitch to an individual merchant, and let word spread.
Word of mouth speedconversion strats go!
[x] Make a pitch to an individual merchant, and let word spread.
-[x] Let Shizhua do the talking about the art.

Sounds like hte love triangle is growing volitile.
[X] Make a pitch to an individual merchant, and let word spread.
-[X] Casual conversation, for a start. Idle chit-chat, in the open. The idea is to get an artist or two directly interested in hearing more advice.

This shouldn't be a final vote, but it's a start to help people think this through. I might edit things later.
[x] Make a pitch in the middle of the market. 
- [x] Let Shizhua handle the art bit.

Fortune and likely the oni favor the bold.
[x] Make a pitch to an individual merchant, and let word spread.
-[x] Let Shizhua do the talking about the art.
[X] Start making audible commentary, and let people come to you.
I'just gonna piss into the tide, if you don't mind.
> The more creative your strategy, the better things work out for the Mikami!

[x]Host an exhibition spellcard battle, with Sukuna taking on any challenger. First one to win gets a prize!
-[x]Encourage spectators to make bets.
-[x]Direct any participants and betters to the lovely lady with the ribbons for a divine blessing.
[x] Find costumes for the Mikami, then put on a song-and-dance stage show. Yamame and Sukuna can join in if they want, but make sure Shizuha gets the spotlight.
Calling vote for talking to a single merchant.
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25491
"Hmmm..." I bite my lip, taking a good long look around the market. "Shizuha, do you see anybody here that could use a little inspiration?"

The leaf goddess glances over at me curiously, then shrugs and begins scoping out the marketplace. Slowly, she wanders down the rows while the rest of us follow a distance behind. Shizuha smiles at the vendors trying to hawk their goods, looks on curiously at the craftsmen working on their products in the middle of the market, and ponders the various crafts arrayed before her.

Finally, she come to a stop in front of a stall selling intricately carved jewelry cut from jade, onyx, and other precious stones. Bracelets, rings, earrings, necklaces... the stones have precious metals set into them and everything is worked with dazzling intricacy. A greenish bracer depicts flights of birds while worked silver makes for clouds, and a bit of gold takes the place of the sun and its rays. Earrings of shimmering red stone are carved into the shape of realistic smiling faces, with eyes and teeth of ivory. It's fantastic work, and a testament to the maker.

The maker in question is an Oni woman, with blue skin and a pair of horns on her forehead. Clad in a fairly simple shift, she appears to be more concerned with her art than any haggling with customers. Still an aura of alertness surrounds the woman even as she frowns at a piece of jade in her hands, slender tools held in her dextrous fingers cutting away shavings of stone with painful slowness. Bit by bit, the Oni woman take away some stone, frowns at her work, then cuts away some more. She does glance up at Shizuha, then grunts and looks back down at her work.

The leaf goddess backs up to me. "She'll do," Shizuha mutters. "A lot of creativity, but she's unable to tap it all at once. She has some ideas that she just can't seem to put into action."

"You can tell?" I ask in surprise.

Shizuha nods. "Our grand opening gave me some faith which I can use for this purpose. It means spending some of my newfound strength, but you have to spend something to gain something, after all."

I nod. "Go ahead, then."

Shizuha hesitates. "What do I do, exactly?"

I shrug. "Go up and talk to her about her art. Idle chit-chat, and slowly do your thing so that she opens up. When she notices, and she should, just be humble and mention that it's sort of your thing. And make sure to keep your voice nice and clear, so that the other artists can hear you. Oh, and be sure to mention your sister and Hina at some point, got it?" Shizuha nods and, after a moment to steel herself, walks up to the artist.

"Some nice work you got there," Shizuha comments, running her hands over some of the pieces on display.

"All my own work," the Oni responds in a surprisingly melodious voice. "It's all for sale. If you're just here to gawk, that's fine, just don't get in my way."

"I do enjoy seeing a craftsman at work," Shizuha admits, and the Oni seems to accept this with a grunt. "If I may ask, what are you working on?"

"I like to work with stone," the Oni replies. "Seems more honest to me. Good, living stone, with maybe a bit of shiny stuff on the sides. Still, I'm in a bit of a rut. Can only make so many pictures of animals, cities, and battles, you know?"

Shizuha ponders it for a moment. "What else would you like to do?"

The woman looks up for a moment, thoughtful. "Eh, maybe something abstract. That... you know, the kinda stuff that affects the soul without really having a form? Patterns without shape? That kinda stuff. But I can never make it work." She shakes her head irritably and gets back to her task, rubbing at the stone with a bit more aggression than before.

Shizuha looks at the woman silently for a moment and narrows her eyes at her. I notice a faint flicker of power around the leaf goddess, then it's gone the next instant. The man in the next stall, a painter of some sort, looks up in surprise and glances over at Shizuha curiously, but the leaf goddess is staring intently at the Oni woman. After a moment, she heaves a sigh and steps back, shaking her head as though to clear it.

The blue-skinned woman, meanwhile, is now working more intently than ever. Biting her lip, she rubs at the piece in her hand tirelessly. Looping designs get worked into it, and she occasionally dips a stone ladle into what appears to be a brazier full of molten silver. Somehow, she manages to dip the runners of silver into the stone loops and make them cool rapidly, before going back to her work. She carves, she adjust, she twists and polishes. All the while, her neighbors start to watch in fascination, while Shizuha has a look of satisfaction on her face.

It takes about twenty minutes of painstaking work, but what finally emerges is a masterpiece of interwound jade and silver, watery designs seeming to flow all across the surface. The Oni woman smiles, pleased at her work, then gives Shizuha a sharp look. "You did that." It's not a question.

Shizuha thinks it over. "Not really. All I did was unlock the inspiration in your soul. You did the rest."

The craftswoman thinks it over. "So, you're some kinda goddess?"

"My name is Shizuha Aki," the leaf goddess replies, bowing politely. "I am a goddess on the surface, in fact. My role is to change the colors of the leaves in spring." This nets her a skeptical look, and she coughs in embarrassment. "I also have a knack for artistic inspiration. That's what I did just now."

"You're looking for followers," the Oni says in amusement.

Shizuha thinks it over again. "Down here? Not so much. More the occasional prayer for inspiration."

"That'll probably work better," the Oni woman agrees. She thinks it over. "Well, m'lady, If you don't mind letting me say a prayer in your name, I was having the damnedest time putting together these rings over here-"

"'Scuse me," the artists from next door says, walking over. "Can I get in on this too? I mean, you can only paint lava flows so much..."

A carpenter on the other side walks over. "Incidentally, what are good designs to carve into wood?"

And then the damn bursts. Over the next sixty seconds, Shizuha vanishes beneath a sea of craftsmen and artists, all very curious as to what she can offer. Apparently, inspiration can be hard to come by underground. I manage to catch a few snippets of conversation.

"So she can give inspiration?"

"She's pretty."

"What the fuck is a leaf?"

"Hey, what about poetry? Can you do poetry?"

"Dude, limericks are not art!"

"They totally are!"

"Is singing okay? What about opera? Harmonic belching?"

"Oh, I remember hearing about this girl from some folks who left Big Papa's!"

"Didn't she have a sister who was good with food?"

"I hear the sister was good with booze, too."

"Whoa, I could use some of that juju for my stand!" says a tall Oni in a chef's hat.

"There's your cue," I say to Minoriko, "Get in there."

Minoriko looks at the excited press of people nervously. "Um... are you sure?"

"Absolutely! Now get in there and mingle with the followers!" I give Mino a gentle push to get her walking, and seconds later she disappears into the throng. Moments later, I hear questions about cooking times start to get hollered back and forth, and nod in satisfaction. Looks like the Akis are off to a good start. Now, as long as they put in a good word about Hina, we can work on the fortune end of things later!

"Aww, they're already making a lot of friends!" Okuu chirps happily. Riding on top of the hell raven's head, Sukuna nods eagerly.

Well, those two are taken care of for now. I look over at the dual sources of my recent frustrations. Yamame is watching the sudden throng with amusement, while Hina, surprisingly, is instead looking at a set of dresses with a good deal of intensity. I need to talk to the both of them at some point. The question is, who first?


[ ] Yamame first.
[ ] Hina first.

(This is not a route-lock decision. Aya will speak to both of them at some point. This is just a matter of who you want to talk to right at this moment.)
[x] Hina first

Oi Hina, go get in on that action before you miss your cue! We can talk to Yamame while Hina is involved with the Oni.
>>25492
[x] Hina first
I agree with this.
[x] Hina first.

Works for me.
[x] Hina a go go, baby!
[x] Hina first.
She's being kind of dense. Yamame has a lot of the same problems that Hina herself suffered from, and has likely built up a lot of misfortune. Hina should at least be doing her duty as a goddess and absorbing that for her.
[X] Hina-A-Go-Go, Babeh!
[x] Hina first.

I didn't expect this to be happening quite this soon.
>>25498
Better to get it out of the way before it starts affecting her reputation down here.
[x] Hina first
[x] Hina first

I wonder if this love triangle was a result of anon being chronically distracted by Yamame's sexy and/or not noticing Hina's.
[x] Hina first
...Yeah, pretty sure I can just go and call the vote right about now.
File 138974877829.jpg - (348.07KB, 850x1275, yow.jpg) [iqdb]
25505
...I need to talk to Hina. As much as I need to talk to Yamame as well, Hina will probably be pretty busy in just a little while, what with getting worshipers and all. Besides, given the sudden friction between the two of them, and how it looks like Hina's the cause of it, I really want to take her aside first and just clear the air.

With one final glance at the others, I walk over to where Hina is biting her lip as she stares intently at a rack of well-cut dresses. "Hey, pretty lady," I say in my most charming voice, "See anything you like?" As Hina turns to face me, I make sure to pose a little bit, adding another meaning to my words.

Hina's sudden gasp and blush makes me feel a bit of triumph inside. She likes what she sees, no two ways about it. I... can't describe how that makes me feel.

Then Hina gets a look of determination on her face and glances back at the row of dresses before looking back to me. "Aya, can you wait here just a moment?"

Eh?

"Uh, sure," I say hesitantly, feeling taken off my stride. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing, I just need a moment," Hina says hurriedly. Taking a dress off the rack, she rushes over to have a hurried conversation with the proprietor, a youkai woman of some sort, and disappears into a back room of the shop, leaving me alone.

Well. That went nothing like I expected.

Looking back at the others, I notice that the throng has died down a little bit. Minoriko is talking to a couple of Oni, while Shizuha remains surrounded by artists. Yamame is currently talking to Okuu, although she spares me a curious glance before returning to her conversation. There's something else in her glance as well. Something that I just can't place.

As her Sukuna, she remains perched upon Okuu's head, apparently reveling in the chance to check out Yamame. That girl will never change.

A finger taps me on the shoulder, and I turn to face the owner of the shop, who has a mischievous smile on what I can see of her face under her hood. "Miss Shameimaru? Your lady friend is waiting for you out back."

I blink in confusion. "Out back? Why is Hina waiting for me out back?"

There's a giggle from the proprietor. "Oh, I think she wanted to surprise you is all~. Anyway, you don't want to keep her waiting, now do you?" A little confused, I nonetheless shrug and let the owner of the shop usher me out the back door and into the alley behind the storefront. It's quieter here, though still well-lit. I can hear the bustle of the crowds from not too far away, as well as the Akis speaking excitedly to their new potential petitioners.

"Aya~," Hina's voice sings from close by. Putting on my best smile, I turn to her with a teasing compliment on my lips-

And

I

Um

Oh.

Wow.

Oh, wow.

Hina smiles mischievously as she twirls slowly in place, showing off her new outfit. "See anything you like~?" she echoes my earlier words, a teasing glimmer in her eyes.

I barely manage to nod.

Hina's outfit defies mere words, but I can try. What little of it exists is mainly made of a sheer, shiny red fabric, hugging Hina's curves like a second skin. Maple leaves are skillfully embroidered into it, and the edges of the fabric are tipped with black lace. And there really isn't a lot of it. The dress runs up Hina's side and covers the lower part of her bust. The rest of her torso is completely exposed to the air; her back, most of her chest, and all the way down to her waist. The pale, silky skin of her stomach, back, and chest shimmer in the light of the underground. Distantly, I note that one of Hina's green spirals has been embroidered on one of the hips of the long red dress. The front of the red material opens up to reveal a long black underdress, which seems to get more sheer the further it gets from her waist. About mid-thigh, it gets completely transparent and reveals thigh-high stockings which slide into delicate high-heeled boots. A pair of long black gloves reaching the upper arms completes the ensembles, and Hina has even replaced her normal ribbon with one that matches the fabric of the incredible dress.

I have no idea how she's keeping it on. I really can't bring myself to care. On any other woman, something like this would look trashy. On Hina, it looks like the absolute height of elegance: beautiful, sexy, and classy all at the same time.

Of course, I can't bring myself to say these words. Stunned as I am by the sight before me, all of my carefully gathered poise deserts me in a second. All I can do is gape at the vision of divine beauty in front of me. "Oh my goddess," I finally whisper, voice hushed.

Hina faces me and clasps her hands in front of her, doing wonderful things for her body. "I suppose I am," she says warmly.

I just stare at her, my throat dry. "You look fantastic," I choke out. "What... what brought this on? Not that it's a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination! I mean, it suits you, and it looks so good, and you make it work, and... and..." I cough. "Um. Wow, is what I'm trying to say."

Hina is smiling brightly, but there's a strange fire in her eyes. "Good! I was hoping you'd like it! I guess you could say... seeing you walk out like you did, you inspired me."

I take a good long look at my robes. Then I take a good long look at Hina's outfit. Somehow, I can't help feel that our outfits can't be compared like that. Not that I care. I could stare at this sight all day~!

Still, it's rude to stare at a lady like this, so I need to say something. I mean, there's a real desire to let my eyes feast upon this sight all day, but Hina is looking at me like she's expecting something from me, and oh man I just wanna wrap my arms around her and kiss NONONO don't go down that road Aya! Just... focus. Say something. Say anything. Get your mind working again.


[ ] Ask Hina to go for a walk with you.
[ ] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
[ ] Ask Hina what she feels about you.
[ ] Ask Hina about what's going on with Yamame.
[ ] Give in. Shower your goddess with praise.
I dunno I'm pretty sure it's obvious exactly what Hina thinks by this point.

Because, um.

Yeah.

[x] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
[x]Give in. Shower your goddess with praise.
[x] Ask Hina about what's going on with Yamame.
As much as I want HINA ROUTE GO, I also don't want to shaft Yamame completely. She, Hina, and Aya are three of the loneliest people in Gensokyo; if she and Hina had met without Aya's involvement, they would surely have become close friends at the very least.
As Hina's defacto shrine maiden, it is Aya's job to inform her that her behaviour towards a potential worshipper is unbecoming of a goddess, and to question the reasons behind said behaviour.
[x] Ask Hina about what's going on with Yamame.

Hina's a sweetheart, but I'm all in for a Yamame route.
[X] Ask Hina what she feels about you.
Oh god this is the hardest choice yet.
>>25507

As much as the idea of Two Girls might just work, I really, really don't think it's a good idea to bring up The Other Woman right now. Not when Hina went out of her way to look absolutely stunning. I mean, can you imagine how that'd make someone feel?

I know I'd be downright devastated, personally.
[x] Ask Hina about what's going on with Yamame.
-[x] Add that you're concerned for both of them.
[X] Ask Hina what she feels about you.

panic.gif
[x] Ask hina.what she feels about you
[X] Ask Hina what she feels about you.
[x] Ask Hina about what's going on with Yamame
-[x] Focus on her sudden hostility towards Spiderbutt

I get we don't want to close things off, and Keymaster said this wouldn't lock things in for us, but we want to know why Hina suddenly became hostile towards her, or at least, we want to hear how she feels about her. Structuring the question so as the focus is on her discomfort as opposed to defending Yamame will go a long way towards that.
>>25510
Except she's obviously done it because of perceived competition with Yamame, which is a purely toxic attitude to take. Yes, Aya is interested in pretty, sexy ladies, but if that was all she cared about, she would have boned Yamame the first time they met.
Her current attitude towards Aya is even more insulting than Aya's towards Yamame, because Hina and Aya already have an emotional connection, yet she instead chooses the much more physical method to get Aya's attention.

On its own, Hina dressing up for Aya would be a good thing, clearly indicating her interest in Aya while also demonstrating an increase in confidence.
Here, however, she's not doing it for Aya, or for herself, but only because of Yamame, while simultaneously taking a combative attitude toward the spider youkai herself. Hina is the one that is involving the other woman, not Aya.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed before Hina makes a terrible mistake and alienates what could have been an extremely fervent follower and close personal friend.
>>25516

That may be the case, jealousy might have played a major role in Hina putting on the dress. Whether it did or did not, doesn't matter. When a lady goes out of her way to wear something as stunning as this apparently is, it is extraordinarily rude to go and talk about her feelings towards the woman she feels threatened by. If we wanted to broach the issue of her jealous feelings, then it'd be better to do so by asking about her feelings towards Aya and, for the moment, leaving the question of Yamame out of things entirely.

She's clearly doing it for Aya. If it was just a matter of relative sexiness, she'd probably have felt threatened way back at the Meadows by at least one of the girls there. Aya is probably the one she thinks she needs to compete over, and that's what Aya needs to focus on.

That someone is willing to go out of their way to impress her- to show another side of themselves- is a sign of trust. Let's not bring other people into things directly if we don't need to. Let her bring it up if she feels like she needs to.
[X] Ask Hina what she feels about you.
-[X] Ask Hina about what's going on with Yamame.
--[X] Get Hina to stop on her end, even if it's because they're both interested in us, it's bothersome to see friends fight.
-[X] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
--[X] That means HINA ROUTE GO.

Start with the positive, push through the negatives, add impact to any necessary statements with positives. That is: Hina Route Yes, why so jealous, stop being so jealous, and wow you're hot. In that order, but hopefully not that phrasing.

I want a wall.
>>25517
>That someone is willing to go out of their way to impress her- to show another side of themselves- is a sign of trust.
No it isn't. It's the exact opposite. She thinks the only way to get Aya to stay faithful is to flash some skin.
>it is extraordinarily rude to go and talk about her feelings towards the woman she feels threatened by.
It is equally rude to assume the only reason a person has any interest in you is because of your body.
Don't get me wrong, Aya should certainly be very appreciative of Hina's new threads, but she shouldn't ignore the fact that Hina should realise that they are completely unnecessary for keeping Aya off other women.

All she had to do was ask.
>>25518
As the person currently posting walls of text that basically boil down to 'hina pls stop being stupid', I consider this a perfectly acceptable course of action.
>>25519

>No it isn't. It's the exact opposite. She thinks the only way to get Aya to stay faithful is to flash some skin.

Or maybe she's trying to prove that there's plenty to look at in her direction? For men and women both, it can feel good to be appreciated- appearance-wise- by the one you're holding a candle for. It might be a bit shallow, but it's true.

>It is equally rude to assume the only reason a person has any interest in you is because of your body.

Except that's probably not be the case. She probably wants Aya interested in her /ALSO/ for her body, as well as everything else. The entire package.

>Don't get me wrong, Aya should certainly be very appreciative of Hina's new threads, but she shouldn't ignore the fact that Hina should realise that they are completely unnecessary for keeping Aya off other women.

This is why she should ask about Hina's feelings on things, not cut straight through and ask what she thinks about Yamame. Not when the more important thing is what she feels about Aya, and why it is she feels threatened in the first place.
[X ] Ask Hina what she feels about you.

All in for Hina route.
>>25521
>Or maybe she's trying to prove that there's plenty to look at in her direction?
Aya has already been looking in Hina's direction. Quite often.
>She probably wants Aya interested in her /ALSO/ for her body
Again, Aya has not been particularly subtle. Hina shut down her earlier advances, and Aya has pretty much just been waiting to see if she warmed up to the idea.
It's not like she decided that since Hina wasn't interested earlier, she should just give up and bang Yamame. It's more like 'do want goddess, also want spider, having spider might ruin things with goddess, keeping goddess more important than having spider, but still REALLY REALLY WANT SPIDER'.
>that last bit
I was arguing from the point of view of someone who voted for a single option, rather than a combo-writein.
[x] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
[x] Ask Hina what she feels about you.

This seems like the safest choice.
[x] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
[x] Give in. Shower your goddess with praise.

Let's go all in. If it fails, then GG.
[x] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
[x] Ask Hina what she feels about you.
Not route locking. We do need to get her to open up a bit though. Hoping for a threesome ending.
[x] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
[x] Ask Hina what she feels about you.
[x] Ask Hina about what's going on with Yamame. Even if it's because they're both interested in us, it's bothersome to see friends fight.
[x] Explain how you feel about her.

If we want to clear things up between Hina and Yamame we can't just ask Hina to "pls stahp", we have to let her understand the whole situation. Including Aya's opinion on Yamame.
And then we need to have the same talk again but switch places between Yamame and Hina.

Start with clearing things up between them, then clear up the things around them. And then do the same thing again.

Yeah, I'm pretty much hoping for the Harem Route. Not because I'm particularly in favor of it, I just don't want to let anyone down (even fictional characters) so I can't make a decision that would end up hurting either of them. And if my visual novels have taught me anything, that means I'm a terrible person who will end up hurting both.
[x] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
[x] Ask Hina what she feels about you.
[x] Ask Hina about what's going on with Yamame. Even if it's because they're both interested in us, it's bothersome to see friends fight.
[x] Explain how you feel about her.

I like this.
>>25519
And she's jealous of Yamame because she might turn Aya to another faith? Get real.

Also, your assumption is a load of crap. The only way? Hina knows, due to Aya's actions, that she enjoys a good body. Now that she taught our dear crow Tengu how it feels to be objectified (despite anon's best efforts, the lesson sank in) she sees no harm in answering Aya's teasing. That's all there is.

Finally, let me assure you that (in both fiction and RL) expecting the other party to realize something is a ticket to despair (usually) Even when said party isn't identified as emotionally unstable, conflicted, and suffering a bad case of the green death.

[x] ask for her feelings
-[x] tell her your own

Oh my god KM, a (plot) bomb!
[x] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
[x] Ask Hina what she feels about you.
[x] Ask Hina about what's going on with Yamame. Even if it's because they're both interested in us, it's bothersome to see friends fight.
[x] Explain how you feel about her.
[x] Tell Hina what you feel about her.
[x] Ask Hina what she feels about you.
>>25529
>another faith
Uh, I meant she might think Aya will sleep with Yamame. I doubt anyone would even consider it possible for Aya to abandon the Mikami faith at this point.
>Hina knows, due to Aya's actions, that she enjoys a good body.
She also knows, due to sitting down and talking with Aya, that she is desperate for personal interaction more meaningful than your typical Danmaku pre-battle banter.
>ticket to despair
I'm not suggesting that Aya should go off on some huge speech about objectification or whatever, just point out to Hina that while dressing up in such a very flattering dress is appreciated, it is ultimately unnecessary.
If Hina asked Aya to jump, she would, and she'd bring back a piece of the sky as a souvenir. Getting physically intimate would be good, even great, but not doing so won't negate everything Hina means to Aya.
Combo votes are hard to tabulate, but I'm calling it for talking about feelings, in a certain order.
File 138982813262.png - (511.15KB, 706x1000, parsee would eat well.png) [iqdb]
25534
Oh gods, there's a big part of me that absolutely wants to fall to my knees right this very instant and start worshiping Hina not as a goddess, but as a gorgeous woman. I mean, everything about her is absolutely fantastic! There's a big part of me that just wants to wrap myself in her and let everything else just fade away.

But there are things that I have to know. I'm having a hard time figuring Hina out. So I need to clear the air. I need to let things out once and for all so that I know if there's even a chance for me to win the heart of my goddess of misfortune.

I swallow, trying to work some moisture back into my throat. "Hina...?" I ask weakly.

"Hmmm~?" Hina replies, smiling coyly.

I grit my teeth and step forward. "Hina, what do you feel about me? Honestly, I mean."

Hina blushes deeply, looking a bit taken aback. "Wh-what? Aya, that's so-"

"Please," I say urgently, taking another step forward. Maybe it's all the skin she's showing, but somehow Hina's sweet scent is drilling itself into my brain. "This... is important. I need to know, Hina. I need to know once and for all where I stand with you."

My goddess looks back at my, eyes shimmering with understanding... and is that regret? Before I can figure it out, she reaches over and takes one of my hands in her own soft, gloved one. Without a word, Hina starts to float upward, tugging me along with her. The two of us land on the rooftops, which gives us a little bit more privacy. There, Hina looks deeply into my eyes, looking troubled.

"...At first, I wasn't too fond of you," Hina admits, hesitant. "I mean... there was your reputation, my troubles with the tengu in the past, and of course the fact that I had just gotten out of a really bad situation. All told, your presence was more frustrating than anything else."

I just nod in understanding. Really, I can see where she's coming from, there.

"That changed, with time." Hina looks away shyly. "I mean... you came into my life and made everything better! You gave me friends. Respect. A new home. Hope. People who were willing to trust in me, and offer me faith. You lived and laughed with me. You even opened up and showed me your your heart, your true feelings!" Hina smiles at me gently before turning away, face a mask of guilt. "Actually... that's about when I started to feel really bad about myself."

"Huh?" I start, not expecting this sudden twist. "What do you mean? What did I do?"

Hina shakes her head. "It's not something you did, it's how you lived. I mean, everything you'd been through... it made my troubles seem so minor, so unimportant in comparison. I felt terrible that I'd let myself get so bitter, when things really weren't so bad for me-"

"Whoa. Stop there," I interject, moving to stand in front of Hina. "Let's not turn this into a stupid game of 'who had it worse.' You had some really tough times. I had some really tough times. We each got through it. We helped each other through it. That's all that matters, right?"

Hina smiles warmly at me. "That's the sort of thing I'm talking about right there, Aya. I mean, the more I got to know you, the more I started to... well..." Hina looks away bashfully.

"...The more you what?" I press.

Hina hesitates. "I don't have the words for it. All I know for certain is... that you are precious to me. Very. And... I'd like you to remain at the shrine with me. Long-term. Very-long-term. Do you understand?" Hina is practically glowing red now as she speaks haltingly, unable to speak clearly... until she takes a deep breath and blurts out "I'm saying you mean the world to me, Aya. Do you understand?"

I most certainly do. And hearing those words from Hina makes my head spin. Something electrical goes through me, and I can only stand there numbly as my goddess speaks these words to me.

"Aya? You have this weird expression on your face," Hina says carefully. She's still blushing, but she looks triumphant somehow. Pleased with herself.

...Relieved? Hm.

I clear my throat. "Hina, you're the most beautiful woman in the world to me right now. You took me in despite your mistrust, and are personally responsible for turning me from the perverted wretch that I was into who I am today. I feel... optimistic somehow. Like everything will be better. I mean, I was always attracted to you, but now..." I struggle for the words. "...Now it's like there's something more 'grand' I guess, that I feel for you. It's really intense. Sometimes I feel like it'll overwhelm me. You understand?" Hina just nods, breathing heavily. There's an intensity in her eyes that I haven't seen before. I sigh, deeply. "...And that's part of the problem."

"Huh?" Hina stares at me, stunned, her mood dissipating like mist under the sun.

I look down at myself. "I... need to be touched," I admit. "Always have. That wasn't something you were supposed to want among the tengu, so I always had to keep it under wraps, suppressed. And that was tough, because I'm a very physical woman at heart." I place a hand on my chest. "I want to be held. Kissed. Touched. I'm the kind of person who needs to express emotion physically. I think that's why I got so picture-happy when I was in that state for so long. I know that a lot of people consider that just lust, or even perversion, but..." I shake my head helplessly. "For me, it's not enough to just hold hands, or share the occasional kiss. Being entangled with my loved one, covered in each other's sweat, whispering sweet nothings to one another after we'd just made love... that's my idea of romance, Hina."

The misfortune goddess coughs in embarrassment. "That's... a little blunt, Aya," she laughs awkwardly.

I'm silent for a moment. "...That's what I'm getting at, Hina."

My goddess stares at me. "Oh."

I nod. "Try as I might, I just can't see you getting so physical with me. I mean, I'm scared of chasing you off if I'm too aggressive, I'm scared of hurting you if I go somewhere else for... relief, and most of all, I'm scared of losing you, because meaningless sex just isn't enough for me, either. I has to be both. It has to be." Hina stares at me for a long moment, and takes a deep breath to speak, when I decide to go for broke and finish my statement. "Actually, that's part of why I've been paying so much attention to Yamame."

Hina's mouth closes with an audible click.

"And don't think that I haven't noticed what's been going on between you two, either," I add. Hina pales and looks away from me. Slowly, ever so slowly, I walk over to her and turn the goddess' face back to my own with a feather-light touch. Hina's eyes are damp, and she stares at me with an expression of deep frustration. "Hina, what the hell is going on with you and Yamame?" She closes her eyes tightly in response. I wait patiently.

After a moment, Hina opens her eyes to look at me again. "For a while... I didn't mind..." she says haltingly. "I mean, I knew you liked to look at women. It's just what you did. You never acted on it, and that was fine, it was just your nature..." Hina trails off and takes a deep breath, trying to get her thoughts in order. "Hell, I saw the way you watched Yamame when she was building the shrine, and I noticed the way she would sort of flirt with you, but it was fine. Just harmless flirting, right? But back then, I don't think I'd come to feel the way for you that I do now."

Hina moves away from me, hands clasped tightly, as I keep my eyes on her. "I'd... sort of started to take you for granted. Which is horrible, it really is. I mean, after all you'd done for me...! But I'd started to think that you would always be there if I wanted you, and I didn't need to worry about anything else." She takes a deep breath. "Then Yamame showed up, dressed so... sexily, and she kept giving you this hungry look. And you looked at her the same way! And I got scared. I was worried that I'd waited too long, that I was missing my chance. Heck, I was even worried that Yamame had only invited you down here so that she could get you alone!"

"You were afraid of losing me?" I ask wonderingly.

Hina nods, a tear rolling down her cheek. "Yes! I know that Yamame is a lot more... liberated, than I am, and I thought that was what you preferred! I was scared, and angry, and jealous... I just wanted her to stay away from you! I still do!"

"And you had a fight with her," I realize. "You told her to stay away from me, didn't you?"

Hina looks away in shame. "Yes. As soon as I realized what her intention was, I started to realize that you... might have some needs of your own. And I got so scared whenever I saw you near another woman, like Okuu. I'm acting like such a moron!" Hina seizes her green hair in both hands. "Oh gods, I'm so sorry, Aya! I'm acting like a stupid bitch, and I know it, and I hate it, but I don't know what else to do! I don't want to lose you!"

Hina's words impact me. There's a surge of warmth at her feelings for me. A surge of anger that she would act so irrationally, so immaturely. A desire to comfort her. A desire to reprimand her. Distantly, I remember how jealous I felt when I saw Hina speak kind words to Ichiro, and when I saw his blushing face. I sort of understand how Hina feels, but that doesn't justify her behavior!

On the other hand, the tears of frustration on her face make it clear that Hina knows that.

"Is that why you bought that dress?" I ask gently. "To compete with Yamame?"

Hina hesitates, thinking it over. Sniffling, she wipes at her eyes. "Maybe a bit," she admits. "I just... I wanted you to look at me the way you do her, and I thought this would get your attention. I mean, your reaction was totally worth it," Hina laughs weakly as she says this, "And I know that I was floored when I saw you walk out in that outfit. So sexy, and confident... I wanted to be like that, too. With you feeling the same way that I did." Hina looks away. "Gods. I've been so stupid. You must be so disappointed in me, huh?" She closes her eyes, unable to look me in the eye.

......

Well. There it is. At least I know where I stand with Hina. But after all of that... what do I say to her?


[ ] What do you say to Hina?
I believe a bop on the noggin and a "ba~ka" is in order. Outside of that I have nothing to contribute. Have at it
[x] >>25535
Plus, say "Tell me to jump."
Then, make the first half of my last line in >>25532 a reality. Give Hina the sky.
Then give her a kiss.
Well, ah... hm. This whole situation seems to hinge on how Hina feels about getting physical, and she... didn't actually answer that, feels like she kind of dodged the subject really. So it's hard to come up with anything here that Aya hasn't already said. I think the ball is really in Hina's court still. She obviously wants more reassurances of her goddess role, but the way it's been left here makes it awkward to offer them without implicitly giving up on Aya's own needs.

I know it might just because Keymaster wanted to allow more input on the conversation, but man, this ticks all my "too close to home" passive-aggressive bad relationship vibes. I've seen this situation before and trying to work around sexual incompatibility in a relationship for the sake of ~love~ just never, ever, ever ends well.

So I guess I'd be in favor of continued honesty, reassuring her that she's our goddess and can't possibly "lose" Aya, and that she doesn't need to be sexy to have Aya's devotion. Tell her to just be Hina instead, and let Aya be Aya. And basically pursue "Yamame route" which'll make everyone a lot happier! Looking at the other posts in the thread though I'm guessing this'll be a minority opinion, to the point where I almost don't want to post it. But ehn.
[X] Reassure her she is, and will always be, our goddess. We do love her, but that doesn't mean we have to be her lover.
-[X] Even if we hook up with Yamame, we will always consider Hina to be family.
-[X] Hell, if it weren't for all the bloody jealousy Hina's been spouting (not that we aren't guilty of it ourselves, but we actually let it slide), Yamame would gladly have her as a friend.
--[X] Knock some sense into her. If nothing else, that sort of jealousy is unbecoming of a goddess.

>>25537
Minority opinion, maybe. I want her to pick herself up. That's kinda been the running theme this whole story.
>>25537
She's obviously going to decide whether or not to get physical based on our responses here. Something like >>25538 would probably ruin any chance of that.
[X] Reassure her she is, and will always be, our goddess. We do love her, but that doesn't mean we have to be her lover.
-[X] Even if we hook up with Yamame, we will always consider Hina to be family.
-[X] Hell, if it weren't for all the bloody jealousy Hina's been spouting (not that we aren't guilty of it ourselves, but we actually let it slide), Yamame would gladly have her as a friend.
--[X] Knock some sense into her. If nothing else, that sort of jealousy is unbecoming of a goddess.
Going for >>25536 's response here. As Text Wall Guy Number Two, I am in agreement.

Plus.

[x] Go! Declaration of love!

She doesn't just want Aya's devotion, she wants her love. Considering Aya's own feelings on the matter, I can't not vote for this.
[X] Emphasize that you have a lot of issues with your life to work out in regard to love, since you want to do things properly. Both Hina and Yamame are your friends, and you do not wish to hurt either of them, or return to what you once were. What's important is finding a solution that does not hurt anybody, even if you are tempted to take the easy way.
[X] Reassure her she is, and will always be, our goddess. We do love her, but that doesn't mean we have to be her lover.
-[X] Even if we hook up with Yamame, we will always consider Hina to be family.
-Likewise, if you choose Hina, you will always consider Yamame a friend. Both of them are precious to you, and you do not want to ruin the bonds you already have.
-[X] Hell, if it weren't for all the bloody jealousy Hina's been spouting (not that we aren't guilty of it ourselves, but we actually let it slide), Yamame would gladly have her as a friend.
--[X] Knock some sense into her. If nothing else, that sort of jealousy is unbecoming of a goddess.
Just like the other guy in this thread I'm in this situation right now. I love a person so very much but my libido is too high in comparison. To make things worse, casual sex just doesn't fly with me and I'm pretty fucking tired of wanking every fucking day.
My vote will reflect my final choice in the matter. Right or wrong, at least it is mine.

[x] Hina, I've liked you since the moment I first set my eyes upon you. By living with you, and seeing the true Curse Goddess, those feelings matured into what they are right now: love. I love you Hina; you mean the world to me. If you feel cold, I'll steal the sun itself for you.
-[x] We may have a difference in our physical needs but I'm sure we can work it out. As long as I can see your smile, the smile that makes the world smile with you, I can do anything.
>>25541
Thirding this, I fully support anything that goes Hina route, and honestly I don't care for the idea of Aya and Yamame getting together.

[x] Go! Declaration of love!
[x] Hina, I've liked you since the moment I first set my eyes upon you. By living with you, and seeing the true Curse Goddess, those feelings matured into what they are right now: love. I love you Hina; you mean the world to me. If you feel cold, I'll steal the sun itself for you.
-[x] We may have a difference in our physical needs but I'm sure we can work it out. As long as I can see your smile, the smile that makes the world smile with you, I can do anything.
[x] Hina, I've liked you since the moment I first set my eyes upon you. By living with you, and seeing the true Curse Goddess, those feelings matured into what they are right now: love. I love you Hina; you mean the world to me. If you feel cold, I'll steal the sun itself for you.
-[x] We may have a difference in our physical needs but I'm sure we can work it out. As long as I can see your smile, the smile that makes the world smile with you, I can do anything.

THe other vote reeks way too much of "cop out and go for the girl that'd put out". A good relationship takes effort, and with the issues the two have, it'd be doubly true. As for Yamame? Well I think that'd be another thing.

I feel this write in prompt seems to give us enough rope to hang ourselves.
[x] Hina, I've liked you since the moment I first set my eyes upon you. By living with you, and seeing the true Curse Goddess, those feelings matured into what they are right now: love. I love you Hina; you mean the world to me. If you feel cold, I'll steal the sun itself for you.
-[x] We may have a difference in our physical needs but I'm sure we can work it out. As long as I can see your smile, the smile that makes the world smile with you, I can do anything.

[x] AFTER this and all the emotions that result: "...We really need to have a discussion with Yamame."

Hopefully this results in a better understanding between the two of them.

Hina might not like this idea, but it's pretty much necessary.
MAXIMUM SAPPINESS is perfectly fine. Consider >>25536 redundant.
I'm actually curious as to where this idea that Hina wouldn't be open to anything physical came from. Sure, she doesn't flirt or faunt her sexuality as often as Yamame does. That doesn't mean she's opposed to it.

(I was going to bring up the fact that she went to pleasant meadows in search of some physical no-strings-attached fun, but then had to smack myself in the head on remembering her part in that)

Anyhow, going for the sensible vote.

[x] Hina, I've liked you since the moment I first set my eyes upon you. By living with you, and seeing the true Curse Goddess, those feelings matured into what they are right now: love. I love you Hina; you mean the world to me. If you feel cold, I'll steal the sun itself for you.
-[x] We may have a difference in our physical needs but I'm sure we can work it out. As long as I can see your smile, the smile that makes the world smile with you, I can do anything.
>>25546 Here I wouldn't mind adding the Yamame part >>25547 said as there needs to be a discussion between the two in any case.
>>25549
>Hina wouldn't be open to anything physical
Yeah I don't get that either. Big Papa flat-out told us otherwise, and Hina herself is currently behaving in a manner than disproves it.
>>25551
I think it's a effect of anon harping on Yamame more due she's fond of showing off her ample curves while Hina in contrast doesn't seem to have hers noted by fans (mostly) or Aya herself much but she has good reason.

Part of me hopes that Aya can end up with both, I mean it's happened before with Meiling.
Poor Yamame. What are the odds that we could pull a Meiling and somehow get a threeway relationship to work out? I just don't want to basically blow off Yamame when she's been just as lonely as Aya and Hina.
>>25552
>>25553
So I'm the only one who actually doesn't want a threesome end? To me it seems like an easy, convenient cop out for a love triangle. It was fine the first time with Meiling, but I for one do not want every single protagonist to end up not making a real decision. After all, what is the point of all the "routelocks", relationship dramas, and heated discussions on who to pick, when in the end they're all going to be merrily together, no matter what we readers do?
>>25554
No, you're not alone. While I don't consider threesomes "cop outs" I don't think it'll work in this case.
I'm sad for Yamame but we've talked to her like two or three times, it's not like we're engaged. And, by the look she gave Aya before we went to talk with Hina, it seems like she understands.
>>25555
It doesn't have to end badly with Yamame, at least, I don't think so. She's lonely, yes, but maybe she doesn't need us to be a lover, so much as a shoulder to cry on/warm body to hug/potential wing-girl(badpun is bad)
>>25554
you're talking of VN tropes, which were basically the shackles that bound the stories of old. That and it's gensokyo where girls fly on a daily basis, there's two versions of the same guy, and a fairy in an ice mech.
Let's just get them back to being friends first and worry about where it goes from there.
Also, I didn't read Being Meiling; what's the relationship between Yuuka and Sakuya like?
>>25551
>"For me, it's not enough to just hold hands, or share the occasional kiss. Being entangled with my loved one, covered in each other's sweat, whispering sweet nothings to one another after we'd just made love... that's my idea of romance, Hina."
>The misfortune goddess coughs in embarrassment. "That's... a little blunt, Aya," she laughs awkwardly.
>I'm silent for a moment. "...That's what I'm getting at, Hina."

...suuuure, she's up for it. She's totally acting like she's not just imitating Aya and Yamame's rather physical form of flirting.

Now, I'm actually one of the folks who's up for the threesome end, mostly because I don't want either of the other two in the love triangle that's been set up to feel spurned here. I'm not enough of a jackass for that. But we haven't actually explored our options with Yamame in any way, and while Hina is being, to paraphrase her own words, a jealous bitch, any moves we make regarding Yamame as a person are going to be tainted by the teensy little issue that we worship a goddess who doesn't want to let anyone else near us.

Hina is currently trying to be the person she thinks we want her to be. That just ain't going to work. It never has, and in all probability, never will.
Okay, whoa, WAIT A MINUTE.

>I don't have the words for it. All I know for certain is... that you are precious to me. Very. And... I'd like you to remain at the shrine with me. Long-term. Very-long-term. Do you understand? I'm saying you mean the world to me, Aya.
>But I'd started to think that you would always be there if I wanted you, and I didn't need to worry about anything else.
>I was worried that I'd waited too long, that I was missing my chance.

Her chance for what, exactly? Does she even want a physical relationship or just a BFF?

Aya and Hina are both the first real friend the other's had in a long time, and now it feels like they're treating each other like a life preserver. Hina moreso, since Aya isn't getting what she needs out of their relationship. This is DEFINITELY NOT the time to be declaring their love for each other, especially when Aya hasn't even talked to Yamame yet.

STOP RUSHING INTO THINGS.

[x] Reassure her she is, and will always be, our goddess. We do love her, but that doesn't mean we have to be her lover.
-[x] Ask her what it is she really wants.
>>25560

Uhhh dude, did you not notice that she's all but telling Aya that she wanted to be sexy for her?

I mean, that's not a thing you say to someone you want to just be BFFs with.
>>25560
also add something to the start of this vote about how hina said she wants aya to stay at the shrine long term - aya's already made a decision about that, the mikami are like family to her and she finally has a place that feels like home

sorry I don't have time to actually write this out
>>25561
But is that because she wants to bang Aya or because that's what Aya's looking for and she had to beat Yamame to keep Aya from leaving? This is too important to be making assumptions about her feelings, we need to hear it from her.
[X] Emphasize that you have a lot of issues with your life to work out in regard to love, since you want to do things properly. Both Hina and Yamame are your friends, and you do not wish to hurt either of them, or return to what you once were. What's important is finding a solution that does not hurt anybody, even if you are tempted to take the easy way.
[X] Reassure her she is, and will always be, our goddess. We do love her, but that doesn't mean we have to be her lover.
-[X] Even if we hook up with Yamame, we will always consider Hina to be family.
-Likewise, if you choose Hina, you will always consider Yamame a friend. Both of them are precious to you, and you do not want to ruin the bonds you already have.
-[X] Hell, if it weren't for all the bloody jealousy Hina's been spouting (not that we aren't guilty of it ourselves, but we actually let it slide), Yamame would gladly have her as a friend.
--[X] Knock some sense into her. If nothing else, that sort of jealousy is unbecoming of a goddess.

Yeah dudes, we're definitely not going for a declaration of love right now. That is not what the whole update was about at all.
[x] "I need to know, do you want a lover or a friend?"
[x] Plus reassurances that even if Aya hooks up with Yamame she won't just toss Hina aside, and all that...

Hina has dodged the issue about what she really wants.
She doesn't want Aya to leave, that much is obvious, and she admitted that her dressing up was partly just to keep her attention.
But the big question that she never answered is whether she wants a lover or a friend, and the answer to that means everything.

Aya wants needs a lover. She is, in her own words, a person who wants to be "entangled with [her] loved one, covered in each other's sweat, whispering sweet nothings to one another after [they've] just made love".
If Hina can't be that for her, it's sad to say but it might be better if they don't start what will only end badly.
>>25565
I think hte issue is that Hina and Yamame lean different ways on the "Aya's perfect lover equation"

Hina's more towards love while Yamame's more towards lust/sex. I mean Yamame's gone from luke warm to somewhat friendly/flirty while Hina and Aya are close to a couple (would have made it if not for Anon being distracted by the spider sexy)

That and I see Hina's actions as understandabe. And like I said, a good relationship takes effort.

To brush Hina off as a friend would be a major dissservice, more so if it's for a petty reason.
>>25564
How are we to tell? Keymaster expects us to say something big, that and it's sparked something of a duel.
[x] Reassure her she is, and will always be, our goddess. We do love her, but that doesn't mean we have to be her lover.
-[x] Ask her what it is she really wants.
>>25566
>a good relationship takes effort
Bad relationships can take effort, too. This isn't about some lazy cop-out to avoid a minor problem, it's about whether Aya and Hina are able to give each other what they need for a healthy, happy romantic relationship, or if that kind of relationship is even what they want. It's about not rushing into a miserable life of pent-up desire or sex out of obligation. There are some serious signs of incompatibility here and they need to be addressed before anyone commits to anything.

Also, why are so many people abandoning the plan to talk to BOTH of them before deciding? I feel like the same thing would be happening in reverse if we'd talked to Yamame first.
>>25569
I really don't see any reason to talk to Yamame at all to be quite honest. The only thing there is physical attraction, and I don't think that's enough to build a good relationship out of.
>>25543

This option seems to have the most votes going for it, so this will make up the bulk of the update. However, >>25542 has a fair amount of support as well, so I'll work a bit of this into the update as well.

So yeah. Vote called!
So yeah, obviously Keymaster needed to have Hina outright state whether or not she wants to fuck.
I mean I can understand if he wanted to be subtle or even outright ambiguous, but the entire point of Aya talking to Hina was to find out once and for all, so that the readers could actually come to a decision rather than have the clusterfuck we've got now.
>>25570
>We're not going to sleep with her, so we should just pretend she doesn't exist!
You are the worst kind of person.
>>25572
>You are the worst kind of person.
What can I say? It's worked for me so far.
>>25571
does this mean we lose the three way option?
File 138991601986.jpg - (662.51KB, 600x750, she does okay.jpg) [iqdb]
25576
I shake my head. "No, Hina. You aren't disappointing me. You just made a mistake, that's all. We all make them. I mean look at me! My life has been absolutely loaded with them." I sigh.

Hina looks over at me, a regretful expression on her face. "I guess I kinda screwed up, huh?"

I nod. "Not gonna deny it, but yeah. You did. Hina, Yamame is a really nice woman, and she has a lot in common with you. I mean, you're both great people who've gotten a really bad rap due to your powers and the belief that getting too close to you is dangerous. Hell, Yamame's like a natural friend of yours! You're basically kindred spirits!"

Hina nods glumly. "You're right. And she seemed so excited when she invited all of us down here. Like she was so happy to make some new friends." She hangs her head. "I owe her a huge apology."

I smile. "At least you realize it. Just give her a chance, huh? Try and make up before things get permanently sour between the two of you, okay?" Hina looks up and nods, a determined look in her eyes. That's good. Yamame and Hina really do have a lot in common, and I think that they'd be really good friends if it weren't for this sudden freak-out on Hina's part.

......

Which reminds me. Hina just came out and sort of confessed, in a roundabout way, didn't she? But I'm still not sure. Not sure if she really does want to be close to me, or just sees be as a best friend, or a sibling. I need to find out. I need to put all of my doubts to rest.

I clear my throat. "Hey, Hina?"

My goddess looks up at me. "Yes, Aya?"

"I realize that you're not necessarily big on public displays of affection, but I am," I tell her earnestly. "So I'm gonna go ahead and be direct about this, all right?" Hina stares at me silently, nodding. I take a deep breath. "Hina, I've liked you since I first set my eyes on you. Now yes, it was just a physical attraction at first, but now it's so much more."

"Aya..." Hina says, her eyes softening.

"It's just... by living with you, and seeing who you really are beneath your reputation as a goddess of misfortune, my feelings grew for you. They've matured into what they are right now. I think... I think I might be falling in love with you, okay?" I sigh, feeling my face heat up as the words leave my mouth. Hina stares at me, wide-eyed as I continue to speak. "I think I do love you, Hina. You mean the world to me, you know? I mean, if you told me to jump, I'd fly up, and tear away a part of the sky for you! If you felt cold, I'd go and steal a chunk of the sun for you, just to warm you up!" I take a step towards Hina, trying to make my feelings known to her as best as I can. Short of embracing her, that is, and I don't know if she wants that.

"Aya, I..." Hina tries to speak, but her voice keeps failing on her. Still, her eyes are glimmering with emotion.

I grit my teeth and push on. "Look... I understand, okay? I know that our... physical needs are kinda different."

Hina blinks at me. "Sorry, what?"

I shake my head. "I'm sorry. I just have to be really direct with this. It's the only way we'll understand one another. Look, even if you're not comfortable with me being physical with you, I'm sure we can work something out! I just... want to see you smile. That's all." I smile warmly at her. "That smile. It makes the world smile with you, you know? I'm convinced that it's what makes people trust you, when they give you half a chance. If I can just see that smile, I feel like I can do anything."

"But you want more than just to see my smile," Hina says gently, walking towards me slowly.

"Yes, but..." I sigh. My hearts hurts to say this, but I have to accept that things may not turn out as I want them to. "Look, I'm not gonna lie. I am tempted by Yamame. But I don't want to hurt you, either."

"I understand that," Hina says with a shy smile. "But-"

"And the thing is, if you don't want me that way..." I take a deep breath. "...then I can accept it. I'll make myself accept it."

Hina pauses mid-step, close to me now. "Actually... about that. You see, I-"

I shake my head. "I have to say this. No matter what happens, Hina, you'll always be my goddess. The one who pulled me out of the darkness. The one who made me back into... me. I'm falling in love with you, but if you don't want me to be your lover, then I can deal with it." I smile. "I'd rather have you in my life as family, than not at all."

"Um, Aya, what I'm trying to say is-" Hina tries, but I cut her off with awkward laughter.

"Heheh, listen to me, eh?" I snort. "Here I am, trying to sort out relationship issues alongside my messed up emotional issues, and I don't know if what I'm saying is making you frustrated or awkward or-"

My voice dies in my throat as an incredibly soft hand cups my cheek. Amazingly beautiful green eyes look deep into my own. "Aya," Hina says firmly.

"...Yes?" I ask.

"Don't misunderstand me." Hina takes a deep breath. "It's true that I'm not comfortable being quite so... public with my affections as you are. But in private? I'm a woman too, Aya. And I know what it's like to have unfulfilled desires. Remember, I've been alone for a long time."

I blink, thinking it over. "Um, so..."

"What I'm saying, is..." Hina hesitates, then shakes her head in annoyance. "No. Let me be honest with you in a way that you'll understand." Hina's hand slides around, getting a firm grip on the back of my neck. Her other hand moves to slip into my other one. And then the goddess pulls me into a warm kiss.

It's a very nice kiss.

I can feel her warmth. Her skin. Smell her hair, her body. I can feel her heartbeat, her affection. Her desire. I close my eyes, relaxing into the kiss and sliding my hand around Hina's waist, feeling the bare skin of her back. Something deep inside me sighs with happy relief.

And that's when Hina gets aggressive.

It comes out of nowhere. One minute Hina is kissing me gently, if firmly. The next minute? A hard tug on my head. Tongue. Pressure, moaning. Possibly mine, I'm not sure. Hina wraps both arms around my neck and holds me tightly as she ravishes my mouth.

For a moment, I just freeze, stunned by surprise and enjoyment. The next minute, something inside of me flips, and I begin to respond with equal fervor, countless years of loneliness forcing me to reach out, to try to wrap myself in this goddess' warmth. And Hina doesn't back down. She meets me with a heat of her own, kicking her leg up and wrapping it around my waist to draw me even closer to her. Her hands rush over my body, through my hair, down my sides, stroking and caressing my wings, legs, and anything else they can get to. I respond in kind, wrapping my wings around Hina in a private cocoon, sampling her soft skin for myself. Within me, something exults, feeding for the first time in ages.

Yes, I think. Yes. Yes.

We only stop due to a pressing need to breathe.

Pulling away from me slightly, Hina looks at me with bleary eyes, breathing heavily. "I'm saying... not to underestimate me," she manages.

"...'Kay..." I somehow manages. Higher thought processes are currently offline. Curse my need for oxygen.

"I mean... I'll try," Hina continues. "I want to try. To work things out. I think I can keep up. You know?" Her face is a pretty shade of red. I love how her chest is heaving. It feels nice.

"...Alright..." I say faintly, my body tingling.

"...I can do fun things with ribbons," Hina adds.

My mind seizes up as it tries to process this. Too many possibilities, so little time to contemplate them all.

"I'm indicating to you that I'm interested. You get me?" Hina seems very insistent that I get her meaning on this.

I nod slowly, something inside of me screaming at me to carry this woman to a hotel and just get busy. But I want to do things the right way, and I want to set things right between her and Yamame before anything else, not to mention set myself straight when it comes to the two of them.

"...Aya, are you okay?" Hina asks, starting to get a hold of herself.

"...You're a really good kisser," I say finally.

Hina just grins. "Damn right. Want some more~?" Yes, please. Smiling confidently, still blushing, Hina turns on her heel and starts to sashay away, hips swaying delectably. Then she pauses, and looks back at me awkwardly. "Umm... where are the others?" she asks with an embarrassed giggle.

I shake my head, coming back to myself. "Uh, I think they're over there," I say, glancing down at the Crafts Market. If I listen closely, I can actually hear their voices in conversation.

"Oh. Oh!" Hina says, perking up. "Right, they're not all that far, are they?" She pauses, then gives me an embarrassed look. "You know, this seemed a whole lot more dramatic and classy in my head."

I can't help it. I just laugh, and after a moment, Hina joins in.

**************************************************

The Akis stare at us. Mostly at Hina, but at me too. Sukuna is visibly drooling. Okuu's eyes are shining at Hina's new outfit. Yamame just has a deliberately neutral look on her face. "Two questions," Shizuha says. "One, where were the two of you, and two, what's with the outfit, Hina?"

Yeah, Hina's still wearing her new dress. After taking a moment to compose ourselves, she admitted that she kind of liked it. It made her feel sexy, and she wanted to try something new, at least for a little while. I'm not complaining.

"We were just talking, and I wanted to try something new," Hina says evenly. "Anyway, Yamame? Can I talk to you?" There's an apologetic tone in Hina's voice, and a pleading expression in her eyes.

"Huh?" The earth spider starts, surprised. "Um... okay, sure." Moving carefully, Yamame follows Hina off a ways into a private niche between two stalls.

Minoriko glances at Sukuna, who appears to have fainted from sheer hormones, and gives me a quizzical look. "So. What the hell's going on?"

"Talking. We were talking," I say with what I can only hope is absolute calm and confidence. "So. You two. How did things go?" Yep, brain seems to be back on track and not constantly thinking about making out with Hina. Nope. Not at all.

"Things went well enough," Shizuha shrugs. "I don't think we've made a gigantic splash here, and the novelty is sure to wear off, but I think we can hope for a few prayers to come out way. Still, I'd recommend that we build on our success and go somewhere else to get some more exposure."

Exposure. Hm. Sounds good. "Where?" I ask, sort of wishing I was kissing someone right now.

The Akis give me an odd look, while Okuu tries to wake up Sukuna. "Well, there's the Great Market and the batting range," Shizuha points out. "Or, if you think we should go somewhere to meet people more face to face, there's always the Crazy Wombat and the Laughing Oni."

Those are ideas. They sound like good ideas. And I should really give my opinion on them. Right. So, I take a moment to draw in a deep breath, clearing my thoughts, and suggest...


[ ] The Great Market
[ ] The batting range
[ ] The Laughing Oni
[ ] The Crazy Wombat


>>25575

Well, you still have to talk to Yamame, after all.
which one is the bar? Just asking so Minoriko could do her thing (and likely get the interest of some of the gentlemen oni)
>>25577

That would be The Laughing Oni. The Crazy Wombat is the city's equivalent of a dance club.
[X] The Crazy Wombat

After all, we're Down Under. Get it?
[x] The Laughing Oni
We can hit the dance floor after Hina gets sorted out with Yamame.
[x] The Laughing Oni

We should stop by here just so Minoriko has her moment in the sun.
[X] The Laughing Oni.

Now is Minoriko time. Third stop is Hina time, and hopefully Yamame and Hina have sorted themselves out a bit. We shall see...
File 138993040224.jpg - (132.31KB, 600x800, 39018250.jpg) [iqdb]
25583
[x] The Laughing Oni

>while Okuu tries to wake up Sukuna
Come on, we need more detail, that sounds adorable.
>>25580
I stopped myself for voting "the great market" for the same reason. We need to have all of our goddesses ready for the big one.
And we can dance out worries away at the grand finale no? Spin spin~

[x] laughing oni
>>25582

>Now is Minoriko time. Third stop is Hina time.

[x]Stop! Hammer Time

*Mikami crew shimmys off*
[x] The Laughing Oni
[X] The Laughing Oni

Can't help but think about how long term relationships work in nigh ageless beings like Hina and Aya. I picture them both yet another 1000 years into the future, sitting side by side in the shrine, goddess and miko together. It's a warm and fluffy picture.
[X] The Laughing Oni


I vaguely remember the Crazy Wombat being "just another bar" last time. It's almost as if something happened to make it a place for dancing instead. I wonder what that could be~...

>>25587
Only during the day, at night it's hot and steamy if Aya has anything to say about it, right?
>>25588
In my mind, at least, they're both naked.

I don't get why people think that heartwarming and sexy are opposites
Mostly unanimous, so vote is now called for going to the Laughing Oni inn!
>>25590
Hey, it's not as if I ever said that it wasn't sexy.
I must say it was very nice that Hina made her stance clear and how. Hopefully we can work out a big happy threesome.
File 139000301457.jpg - (396.96KB, 803x1000, her turn.jpg) [iqdb]
25594
I think it over for a moment, then stretch. For some reason, I'm feeling really good right about now. Not too surprising, honestly. "How about the Laughing Oni? We can meet people, have a drink, relax, and maybe even stay the night."

"It is getting later on in the day," Minoriko admits. "Besides, we've been pretty busy, haven't we?

"May as well visit this place, then call it a night," Shizuha nods in agreement.

"Sukky~! Sukky~!" Okuu calls as she gently pokes the unconscious Sukuna, now cradled in the hell raven's hand. "Wake up! C'mon, what's wrong?" Sukuna just gurgles contentedly as she lays there, a dazed but happy expression on her face. That dress of Hina's has that effect on people, I'd wager.

I glance behind me to see Yamame and Hina talking quietly. Hina has her head lowered contritely, while Yamame seems to be listening quietly. After a moment, the earth spider gently lays a hand on Hina's shoulder and says something, causing the misfortune goddess to shake her head and voice a reply. I can't hear them over the crowds, though.

"What are they talking about?" Minoriko wonders.

"I think they're burying the hatchet," I respond. "Best to leave them alone for a little while."

"I wonder what could have caused such trouble between them?" Shizuha says lightly, glancing at me with a raised eyebrow.

"I have no idea," I say innocently. Shizuha just snorts.

"Umm, Sukky? Please don't grab me there," Okuu pleads with the insensate Sukuna, who appears to have latched on to Okuu's chest and is now rubbing her head against it. Even when unconscious, she has her priorities straight. Shaking my head and chuckling, I head over to lend a hand.

After that, the group of us look around the Crafts Market a little more, with Shizuha talking to a few of the artists, until Hina and Yamame come back, looking considerably more at ease with one another. Our little party back together, we follow Yamame as she leads us to the Laughing Oni inn.

***************************************************

The Laughing Oni seems like a fairly upscale establishment in the city. According to Yamame, it's for Oni that have gotten too drunk to find their ways home for the night, and don't want to just pass out in the street. In other words, the classier Oni of the city. From the outside, it seems like a fairly normal building, albeit with a rather large bar off to the side. Something of a business necessity, it seems. The whole scheme of the owner was to have a bar with an attached hotel, so that patrons could drink themselves silly and then sleep it off. Kinda clever, I have to admit.

The inside continues the impression of an upscale drinking establishment/lodgings for hire type of business, with nice underground plants, tasteful decorations, and relaxing paintings on the walls. Oh, and the stature of a Laughing Oni right in the middle of the lobby.

I give the statue a quizzical look. "How the hell did they get this thing in here? Or did they just build around it?"

"It's a mystery, Yamame replies, taking a look around her. She giggles. "Oh man, I have such fun memories of this place! Remind me to tell you about it sometime."

I nod. "Sure thing. So, shall we introduce the Mikami?" Nodding, Yamame leads the way into the bustling bar. For a bar, it's a nice place. Mahogany furniture, crystal glasses, a massive rack of expensive-looking alcohols behind the bar, and even what looks like a kitchen behind some drapes, just in case the patrons get hungry. Most of the inhabitants are Oni (no surprise there), but Oni who tend to be a bit better dressed than most of the drunken souls wandering around outside. Suits, expensive robes, well-cut outfits of all kinds are the norm, and more than a few monocles are present. The conversation seems to be less about how drunk a given Oni got, and more along the lines of proper brewing technique, and the subtle flavors of this years' sake.

There's another surprise waiting for us, as a familiar voice calls out. "Good evening, dear ladies! What a pleasant surprise to see you down here!" I turn my head, and see a familiar Oni in a suit, a huge grin on his face as he waves our group over.

I walk over, grinning despite myself. "Hey Goro. Fancy seeing you here." I nod to his companions. Hey Yondo, Kintaro." The Oni in the well-tailored robe and extravagant vest and top-hat nod back, smiling.

Kintaro gives a low whistle. "My oh my! Such lovely ladies coming to visit little old me? This must be my lucky day!"

Shizuha gives Hina, Yamame and me a long look. "I assume you're talking to them. I have to admit, their outfits are eye-catching, to say the least."

Kintaro laughs heartily, standing up before getting down on one knee and planting a kiss on both Shizuha and Minoriko's hands in turn. "Ah, my lady Shizuha! Do not underestimate your own beauty! Rest assured that your presence, and that of your sister, brings me no end of joy!"

"He gets to flirt like a fool, is what he means," Yondo quips.

"Oh, you're just jealous of my skill with the fairer sex!" Kintaro quips, standing back up. He smiles at Okuu. "Good to see you again, Miss Reiuji!"

"Hiya Kinny!" Okuu chirps, still cradling the happily asleep Sukuna.

Another Oni sitting in the booth clears his throat meaningfully. Wearing a well-cut, almost military-seeming outfit, he gives his companions a stern glare. "Old friends, I do hope you are not going to leave me out of introductions?"

Goro chuckles. "Sorry Tsung. Allow me to introduce our friends from the surface! Aya, Minoriko, Shizuha, Hina, and Sukuna, whom we've spoken of in the past. You already know Utsuho and Yamame of course. Everyone, this is our friend Tsung, who is on the security team down here."

"Charmed," Tsung nods politely as we make our own introductions. "I've heard a lot about you all."

"You have a security force down here?" Hina asks.

Tsung nods again. "A small one, just in case the spirits down here get too aggressive. Or a drunken brawl gets too out of hand, or that sort of thing." He cuts his eyes to the side, where two more Oni have yet to introduce themselves. "You two could do the polite thing, you know?"

One of the Oni, wearing a long, flowing robe and with very long hair, holds up a finger. "Just one more moment," he says in a very deep voice. "Motaro's almost done." Motaro, an Oni in a silken shirt and form-fitting leather pants, currently has a keg tipped up and is hurriedly drinking it down. But apparently not quickly enough for his long-haired friend, who narrows his eyes and bellows "FINISH IT!!!"

Motaro finishes his keg rather quickly. "Okay, okay, I'm done Shao! You can calm down now!"

"Good," the deep-voiced Oni sighs, "You were being rude to our guests." He turns to face us. "Everyone, my name is Shao, and I am very glad to make your acquaintance. This is Motaro. Please excuse his manners. He got his hands on some very expensive wine and, well, got a little carried away."

"I do apologize for my behavior," Motaro says bashfully.

"No problem by us!" Yamame says cheerfully. "So! Motaro and Shao, you might be interested in hearing about Shizuha here, who is something of a goddess of inspiration-"

Seconds later, Shizuha finds herself deposited between the the two Oni, who immediately begin quizzing her about sculpting techniques. A few other Oni in the room turn to listen in.

Minoriko looks around the room herself before glancing at Goro, who nods encouragingly. "So yeah. As a goddess, I bless food and drink, as well as the processes by which they are made."

And that's how Mino finds herself behind the bar, happily talking about brewing techniques with a very interested crowd of listeners.

Tsung watches the Aki sisters with amusement before turning to Hina. "And you, my well-dressed goddess of misfortune, are all about taking away people's ill luck, am I correct?" I note that he's deliberately talking a little loudly.

Hina nods. "That's right! Actually, I've gained enough faith to branch out into fortune in general, but my main focus will always be removing the misfortune from others."

"Hey, I've been having really bad luck at the gambling parlors of late," another Oni speaks up from the next table. "I don't suppose you could do something about that for me?" Smiling, Hina walks over to the Oni and spins gracefully in place a few times. Somehow, it looks even better in that outfit. After a few rotations, she nods at the Oni, who curiously pulls a few dice with arcane runes inscribed on them out of his pocket. "Hundred yen on snake skulls," he says to his table-mates.

"You're on!" one of them agrees.

The Oni gambler rolls the dice in his hand a couple of times before tossing them on the table. The assembled Oni peer down at the results. One of them whistles. "Now that's impressive!" another one comments. Several bets are passed over to the Oni who made the roll, and a few more Oni give a smiling Hina considering looks.

A minute later, Hina is cheerfully spinning in place as Oni line up to have their misfortune removed. Mino and Shizu are still occupied with their own conversations, while Okuu anxiously bounces a still out of it Sukuna on her lap, trying to get the inchling to awaken. Judging by Sukuna's happy giggles, she's enjoying the attention, awake or not.

"This is going well," Yamame comments.

"It is," I agree.

"Happy to hear it!" Goro pipes up. "I don't suppose you'd care to join us for a drink?"

"Can I make you a counter-offer?" I ask. "I need to talk to Yamame here for a bit. Would you mind looking after Sukuna and the goddesses for a little while? We'll be back later." Yamame looks over at me in surprise, while the Oni give us interested looks.

"...I suppose we can grant that request," Yondo says thoughtfully.

"Can't blame you, Aya," Kintaro says with a wink. "With her wearing that, I'd want to get her alone, too!" This earns him a swat from Tsung, which he laughs off.

"Thanks guys," I say gratefully, then look over at Yamame. "Do you mind if we go talk in private for a bit?"

The earth spider gives me a dazzling smile in response. "Not at all! Follow me, I know just the place!" Perkily spinning on her heel, Yamame leads me out of the bar. I glance over at Hina, but she has her eyes closed contentedly as she spins, taking away the Onis' misfortune.

Well, Big Papa suggested I talk to her, so I had better do so. His advice has been sound so far, and beyond that... I think it would help me to get my own feelings cleared up. So, what should I talk to Yamame about?


[ ] Why did she come to see you?
[ ] Tell her about the effect she has on you.
[ ] Ask about what happened between her and Hina.
[ ] Whatever happened to the superhero thing?
[x] Why did she come to see you?
[x] Ask about what happened between her and Hina.

I'd much rather they just be friends then have this go a threesome route like Being Meiling.
>>25595
"I'd much rather" ugh. I meant 'I'd much prefer'
[x] Whatever happened to the superhero thing?
-[x]Why did she come to see you?

First, icebreaker. I admit, I almost forgot Yamame's stint as a superhero. Then we can get down to business.
[x] Why did she come to see you?
[x] Tell her about the effect she has on you.
>>25595
>not building a harem for your goddess
Do you even worship?
[X] Whatever happened to the superhero thing?
-[X]Why did she come to see you?
--[X] I'm pretty sure I know, but what happened between you and Hina?

slightly write-in ish, but it seems like the right choice to me.
[x] Whatever happened to the superhero thing?
[x] Why did she come to see you?
[x] Tell her about the effect she has on you.
[x] Ask about what happened between her and Hina.

wall me, that and i think they're all worth talking about with the first being an ice breaker.

That and I'm aiming for a threesome not just for Aya's benefit but Hina's as well.
[ ] Whatever happened to the superhero thing?
[ ] Tell her about the effect she has on you.
[x] Why did she come to see you?
[x] Ask about what happened between her and Hina.
[x] Whatever happened to the superhero thing?
[x] Whatever happened to the superhero thing?
[x] Why did she come to see you?
[x] Tell her about the effect she has on you.
[x] Ask about what happened between her and Hina.
[x] Whatever happened to the superhero thing?
[x] Why did she come to see you?
[x] Tell her about the effect she has on you.
[x] Ask about what happened between her and Hina.


I'm not actually aiming for a threesome or anything (if it happens, I won't complain though), but skipping over something so central to their current relationship as that just because you're worried that it might lead to something sounds like a bad idea.
If we are to clear everything up, that means all cards on the table.
[x] Whatever happened to the superhero thing?
[x] Why did she come to see you?
[x] Tell her about the effect she has on you.
[x] Ask about what happened between her and Hina.
>>25605

I do not see how 'I am physically attracted to you' is at all central to their relationship.
>>25607
Have we been reading the same story?
Aya's connection to Yamame literally started as, and is still (mostly) "I am physically attracted to dat spiderbutt". She has wet dreams about her.
Physical attraction is very much a part of their relationship.

They met when Aya contacted her to build the shrine, Aya panicked in her claustrophobia and most of what was on her mind besides "gottagetout!" was "eeeeyyyyy, sexy lady".
They met again during the construction of the shrine. Aya's brain at that point was "OMG PANIC! ONI!" and "spiderbutt still sexy".
Now we're in the underground. Leading up to this was another claustrophobic panic and "butt isn't all that's sexy about spiderbutt".

How is "I am physically attracted to you" not central to their relationship when that is the entire reason their relationship exists in the first place and the one thing that all their encounters always end up being about, in one way or another?
Aya's physical attraction to Yamame is such an obvious part of their relationship that Hina felt she had to dress up to compete, because she was afraid that Aya would leave her if she didn't flaunt what she had, like Yamame.
>>25608
It may be why the relationship started, but it is not at all why their friendship has to continue. I think it is entirely possible for Aya to move past her attraction to Yamame and become her friend for you know, her personality.

Also I thought the whole 'Let's keep trying to get with Yamame because she's sexy' thing anon has been doing is stupid as hell.
>>25609

Additionally, Big Papa specifically called out Aya on continuing to look at Yamame as just a hot piece of ass as being shallow as hell.

I'd much rather move past that and have Aya get a geniune friend, rather then trying to get a second sex partner for her when she already has Hina now.
>>25608
The way I see it, Yamame is chocolate to Hina's vanilla, and someone said that Yamame was trying to find love as well, hinting that she has feelings for Aya.

And we saw that Hina wasn't just clean love and maybe perhaps Yamame isn't just inducing Lust.
...Probably should have seen that one coming, huh? Righto. Wall it is!

Vote called.
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25613
"Just a second," Yamame says as she leads me back out into the lobby, "I need to speak to the owner. She owes me a favor, so it's time to cash in!" Cheerfully bouncing across the floor, Yamame takes a moment to speak to the person at the desk before leading me to one of the rooms upstairs.

It's a nice room, all told. Comfortable decor in a traditional Japanese fashion, complete with tatami mats and a nice futon in the corner. A low table is in the center of the room, and the walls are decorated with paintings and draperies. All in all, the kind of place any traditional tengu would be comfortable in. Even I like it.

"Just have a seat," Yamame urges me. "I need to go... take care of something, and then I'll be right back!" Smiling eagerly, the earth spider slips out of the room, sliding the door closed behind her. A bit bemused, I sit down at the table, waiting for her to return.

...Hang on, does Yamame think that I want to proposition her? It's a possibility, given how I was ogling her earlier. And when it comes right down to it, I really am attracted to Yamame. I mean, not only is Yamame hot as all hell, she knows it herself, and is completely comfortable flaunting it! There's something just so appealing about a woman with so much confidence in herself.

Then again, Big Papa did remind me that there's a whole lot more to Yamame than just her body, and I want to take the chance to get to know her a little better, to get my feelings straight in my head. When it comes down to it, my main interest in Yamame is purely physical, and the earth spider deserves a lot more than that.

I'm jolted out of my thoughts as the door slides open, and Yamame enters the room, smoothly sliding the door shut behind her. "Here I am~!" she purrs. I take a good long look.

Somehow, Yamame has gotten her hands on a new outfit. A very appealing outfit. A black kimono now adorns her body, hugging her curves tightly with shiny, soft-looking fabric. A design of flower petals adorns it, as well as a few yellow ribbons holding together the lower parts. However, the way Yamame wears it makes all the difference. The outfit already hugs her body, and Yamame is wearing it off the shoulders, exposing her slender shoulders and glorious cleavage. The lower part has been deliberately left open, and as she walks, I get a nice look at her long, shapely legs.

It's beautiful. It's sexy. It's classy. It's everything good about a woman rolled up into one, and Yamame wears the image flawlessly, utterly at home with her appearance. I have to admire the way that the earth spider can bring the best out of herself with seemingly little effort. This is damned near as appealing as Hina...

Taking a seat across from me, Yamame stretches out, putting her body on display for a moment, before leaning across the table towards me. "So. Here we are at last. Alone together." Her voice is a warm purr, and her eyes give me a smokey, hooded look.

I try to clear my suddenly dry throat, forcibly shoving down my libido as it demands that I jump the woman right now. "Uh, yeah. Here we are. Um, nice outfit."

"Thank you," Yamame replies, smiling. "It's brand new. Would you believe that Hina helped me pick it out?" She chuckles. "She even insisted that I speak, when we were talking earlier. I'm not sure what's going on exactly, but..." Yamame shrugs, something that does lovely things for her body.

I pause. So Hina encouraged her to talk to me? Maybe this is her way of trying to make things up to the two of us. Or just to clear the air. Either way, I do owe it to her not to let my desires get the better of me. Which is kind of a hard proposition at the moment, what with Yamame being so... her right now. Gotta change the subject.

"So, what ever happened to the superhero thing?" I ask lightly.

Yamame's smiles shatters. "What?"

"The superhero thing," I repeat. "I mean, I had heard that you were trying to follow in DyCirno's footsteps, but I haven't heard a thing about it ever since."

Yamame closes her eyes. "Nobody wanted me as a hero, Aya."

I stare silently. There's a lot of emotion in her voice, even as she tries to keep it bland. Anger. Frustration. Disappointment. Hurt. Loneliness. "Tell me about it," I ask, voice as kind as I can make it. Yamame just looks at me sadly.

"...All I've ever wanted was to make friends," she says quietly. "I did everything I could to that end. I always smiled, always helped people. When someone fell into my cave, I forced down my instincts with all of my will, helped them, was gracious, and showed them to the surface. I've always tried to make people feel interesting! Important! I really like people, Aya! And all I've ever wanted is to get to know new people!" Yamame's voice gets louder and louder as she talks. Finally the earth spider slumps a little bit, embarrassed at her outburst. "...Sorry."

I shake my head. "It's fine. I think I know what happened. It's your power, isn't it?" Yamame nods. "The power of disease. And no matter what you do, people are always going to look at you as a source of illness. A danger."

"...In the old days, that was a real problem," Yamame admits. "I practically drew diseases to me. But I worked hard, and now that's not even an issue! I'm safe to be around, Aya! But no one believes that." She closes her eyes and hangs her head. "I tried to be a hero. I wanted people to like me. But anyone I talked to just drew back, looking at me like I carried the plague. Nobody wanted to be saved by a hero that would make them sick just by being around them. Even if it wasn't true. It got to be too much. So I gave it up." Yamame shakes her head, then forces herself to laugh. "Hey, but why the heck are we talking about all of this depressing stuff, huh? We're all alone in this nice room together! Let's do something fun~!" The earth spider leans forward towards me, almost causing her cleavage to spill out of her dress, and gives me a hungry look.

I understand. This is how Hina saw me, isn't it? And sometimes, the best thing to do is just force your way to the heart of the problem. I reach out and gently take Yamame's hand in my own. It's very soft and warm. "Yamame, why did you come to see me?"

Yamame's smile fades, and she stares at me silently before slumping back down. I keep my grip on her hand. "I guess there's no avoiding it, huh?" She sighs, and gives me a guilty look. "I wanted to get laid."

I blink. "You know, I'd been wondering."

Yamame snorts. "The outfit wasn't enough of a clue? Plus, I was trying to flirt with you, up until Suwako threw me off my groove. But then I figured that I had a chance to make some friends and invited you down here. I figured we'd hang out a bit, I'd get you to a nice hotel room like this one, and then..." Yamame shrugs. "Things got a little weird with Hina there, but in the end... I just wanted to be close to someone. That's all."

"But why me?" I press.

Yamame gives me a forlorn look. "Who else? It gets lonely, Aya. I don't like being alone. I like crowds, parties. I like talking to people, laughing, having fun. That's part of why I started up my business, to meet new people. That's worked a bit, at least. But also, I... want a mate. Somebody to share my web with, you know? But there aren't exactly a lot of earth spiders out there and..." Yamame bites her lip. "Well, most of the people I meet are either afraid that I'll give them a terrible illness, or have my way with them and then kill and eat them. So, I live alone in my web."

"What about the Oni?" I ask. "I mean, a lot of them seem like nice guys."

"You mean Goro and company?" Yamame nods. "Yes, the Oni like them are nice people. But at the end of the day, they're still Oni. Romance isn't what they do. I've been with a few Oni men, and it was an intense experience, but in the end they don't give me the intimacy that I need. It's just a half-drunken tumble and then they're done." She shakes her head. "So, there was nothing for me there. Until I met you."

"The day we met..." I slowly realize.

Yamame nods. "You were terrified of where you were, but not of me. You were attracted to me, flirted with me. You'd accepted a misfortune goddess as your... friend, and I thought that maybe you'd do the same for me. I mean, you were checking me out all the time, and it felt good! So, I thought that maybe I could spend a little time with you, and we'd see where things went. That's all."

"Well... I won't deny, you are a very desirable woman," I admit with a chuckle. "I mean, that outfit with the sweater and miniskirt! That was running through my head for days! Yamame, you have got to be one of the sexiest women that I've ever met, and it damned near drives me crazy!"

Yamame blushes a little bit as she looks at me. "But?"

"But, I just see you as a friend, and I want more than that," I finish. "Just like you want more than a tumble with an Oni, I want more than a quick lay. That's pretty much why I've always held back. In the past few decades, I've gone the quick lay route, and it never left me satisfied."

"And then there's Hina," Yamame adds.

"Yeah," I nod. "There's Hina." The two of us are silent for a moment. "So, what happened between the two of you?"

"I'm still not too sure," Yamame snorts. "I mean, from what I could tell, the two of you didn't have anything going on, so I felt free to make my move. And if Hina was interested in you, she could have just let me know! Instead, she just yanks me aside and tells me to back away from you before she shoved misfortune down my throat until I choked. What a bitch!"

I wince. Dammit, Hina. "And what did you say?"

"I was shocked," Yamame tells me. "I mean, what did I do to deserve that treatment? Then I got angry, because I didn't deserve to be talked to like that. And then, well..." Yamame looks away. "I told her that if I you wanted to fuck me, that was our business, and she'd have to deal with it. Then I told her to get out of my face before I shoved every venereal disease I could think of up her... well..."

I grimace more than a bit. "Well. That's very... graphic of you."

"...I was also planning to seduce you and then shove it in her face," Yamame says quietly. "I was... kinda mad."

"No kidding," I mutter. I shake my head. "Cat fights are supposed to be a lot sexier than this, Yamame."

"I'm sorry," she replies. "That was terrible of me, and I shouldn't even have been thinking about it."

"No, don't apologize," I tell her. "I mean, yeah that was a lousy line of thought, but Hina was being kinda bitchy about the whole deal. Things are... complicated between us, and you had the misfortune to walk right into it. But she's sorry, and said she'd apologize."

"That's the thing," Yamame says, looking confused. "She did apologize! When the two of you came back, Hina took me aside and gave me this honestly heartfelt apology! She said that things were a little odd between the two of you, and that she had no right to lash out at me, then she asked for my forgiveness." Yamame shrugged. "I figured that I had stepped on some toes without meaning to, and decided to let bygones be bygones. Then she took me shopping, and helped me pick out this kimono, and said it'd look good on me."

"It looks great on you," I emphasize.

"Thanks," Yamame says with a smile. "Anyway, Hina said that I should talk to you in private later and wear this when I did it, so... I dunno. I wasn't sure if she was giving me the go ahead or what, but she was at least trying to make amends with me. I'm still a little confused as to what's going on here, Aya."

I chuckle. "I think that Hina's trying to make a point. That she isn't a jealous bitch, and is comfortable with me talking to you. She was just trying a little too hard to make up for her behavior. Which doesn't mean that you shouldn't wear that outfit, by the way; it looks fantastic on you."

"Sheesh. I really walked into something, didn't I?" The lovely earth spider shakes her head. "You know, I'm still interested."

"Hm?" I give her an inquiring look.

"In you, I mean," Yamame clarifies. "You're attractive, you're fun, and I wouldn't mind wrapping you up in my web, if you know what I mean."

"Well, I'm not too big on confinement," I say with a raised eyebrow.

"I'd keep your mind off of things," Yamame says with a teasing grin. Then she looks at me seriously. "But it's clear that things are a little complicated here. There's obviously something going on between the two of you, and I blundered into it. Hina has feelings for you, but is trying to make amends by having us talk like this, and..." she raises her hands helplessly. "Aya, just tell me. Where do I stand with the two of you?"

......


[ ] What do you say to Yamame?
>>25611
>Yamame is chocolate to Hina's vanilla
But that's wrong. Hina is delicious and deceptively chaste strawberry, Yamame is hot sticky gooey caramel.
At this point I'm still aiming towards the Hina route, but Yamame has been a good companion so far, and she deserves someone who cares for her. HOWEVER, I don't want a harem route, because that's a total cop-out. Maybe get the Mikami group to play matchmaker for the only tolerable spider in existence.
Well now the moment as it seems clear that Yamame's not much different than Aya in this regard and I'm trying to think of a way to state that things are open and being a trio is possible.
>>25615
>total cop out
Lay off the VNs already.

I feel a trio would liven up the dynamics some.
>>25617
We already got a trio in Being Meiling and Pleasant Meadows also ended without having to actually choose between the two girls, there's no need to have another cop out to prevent an actual choice from being made.
[x] Start by giving a brief explanation of your own life. Tell her that for a long time you were alone too. Then, with the help of your friends, you started to slowly find your way out of the darkness. It's because of friends- Hina, Yamame, and others, that you've gained more depth and become less shallow.
[x] Say that Hina has had similar issues as well. They're not your stories to tell, but if Yamame talks to Hina she might realize that they have more in common than they realize.
[x] The worst thing you fear is losing those pillars, and going back to that shallow existence. Not only for yourself, but for your friends, like Hina and Yamame. You like them a lot, and it would break your heart to see them fall like you did.
-[x] Explain that you care deeply about both Hina and Yamame. You have a desperate urge to take things to the next level, but you also don't want to return to your earlier stage of desperation, and destroy what we have all built together.
--[x] Therefore, while you do not know what the future holds, you want to protect the bonds you have made, and ensure that they will not break.
--Promise that no matter what happens, you will always care about Yamame, and you hope that she feels the same.
>>25618
most choices like then tend to be forced because most writers based stories based on VNs, which would be fine if there was more than one run.

While I certainly wasn't keen on the yamame nuts friendzoning Hina for their reasons, as of this update I'm equally unkeen on friendzoning Yamame hard because some sort of insistance on sticking to VN tropes.

I don't think yamame has many options, especially how her first choice was someone whose reputation was in the dirt (Aya). That and in many ways her lot is similar to Aya's and Hina's. And the fact Hina set up this conversation suggests she's open to it.
>>25618

It's not so much a matter of not deciding, but rather ensuring that, no matter what choice you make, you don't leave the other side depressed and hurt. If we get a trio in the process, that's just an extra bonus.
>>25619
May I ask the intent behind that write in? It'll determine if I'll go with it or not.
Ironically, the best person to ask about this conundrum is probably Meiling.
>>25621
That's my whole view point: trying to find the route of most happiness, not some insistence of outdated norms. That and I wouldn't be trying for it if it wasn't open (and there's been various hints that it is)
Well, for starters, Yamame's currently the odd one out in regard to knowing about Aya's situation. She also doesn't know too much about Hina. Those sort of things are usually only explained over time, but the last update kind of convinced me that we need to start opening up to her. She doesn't really understand the situation with Hina and her attitude, so explaining some about you and Hina and showing the connections to Yamame's own story are necessary. It's a good way of build three-way camaraderie.

Then, I shifted to emphasizing that I care about both of them, and that I don't want to see either of them hurt. I'm not sure if we'll get the trio option, but I at least want to make sure that neither side gets destroyed in the process.

I'm open to a revised strategy if something better comes up, and can change things around a little if you have any suggestions. After thinking it over a little more, I think that I might want to have something at the start to answer Yamame's question in some way; if we start changing the subject without answering, she might get frustrated and throw the rest of the plan out of the water.
>>25625
I get the impression that Hina's starting to warm up and hearing this, Aya's certainly willing to be friendly if not more so. But I have no idea how to word it to leave the "Trio Option" door open while assuring Yamame that both Hina and Aya care for her.

I don't think it'll happen instantly but if we do this right, the foundation for the Trio option will be set down and thus allow us to build on it.
[x] I'm sorry. I'm trying to start something with Hina- I'm not available anymore. And you deserve nothing less than 100% commitment.
-[x] Try to find someone for her.
She deserves more than being part of a harem. And, considering she only got close to Aya because she didn't freak out, she will get over this pain.

Now we just need to pick someone for her!
It has to be someone single and looking around (like, say, people who attend to parties like pleasant meadows' ) it has to have some reason to be in the underground (like, say, because her protégée likes to hang around here all the time) some frustration or anger to vent (like, said protégée) and needs to come from a group of people that has little racism or has risen above all prejudice (like, say, celestials)
In honor of Yamame's power over diseases, I propose we call it "Operation Saturday Night Fever"
[x] Start by giving a brief explanation of your own life. Tell her that for a long time you were alone too. Then, with the help of your friends, you started to slowly find your way out of the darkness. It's because of friends- Hina, Yamame, and others, that you've gained more depth and become less shallow.
[x] Say that Hina has had similar issues as well. They're not your stories to tell, but if Yamame talks to Hina she might realize that they have more in common than they realize.
[x] The worst thing you fear is losing those pillars, and going back to that shallow existence. Not only for yourself, but for your friends, like Hina and Yamame. You like them a lot, and it would break your heart to see them fall like you did.
-[x] Explain that you care deeply about both Hina and Yamame. You have a desperate urge to take things to the next level, but you also don't want to return to your earlier stage of desperation, and destroy what we have all built together.
--[x] Therefore, while you do not know what the future holds, you want to protect the bonds you have made, and ensure that they will not break.
--Promise that no matter what happens, you will always care about Yamame, and you hope that she feels the same.

well with the intent stated I can go with this.
[x] Start by giving a brief explanation of your own life. Tell her that for a long time you were alone too. Then, with the help of your friends, you started to slowly find your way out of the darkness. It's because of friends- Hina, Yamame, and others, that you've gained more depth and become less shallow.
[x] Say that Hina has had similar issues as well. They're not your stories to tell, but if Yamame talks to Hina she might realize that they have more in common than they realize.
[x] The worst thing you fear is losing those pillars, and going back to that shallow existence. Not only for yourself, but for your friends, like Hina and Yamame. You like them a lot, and it would break your heart to see them fall like you did.
-[x] Explain that you care deeply about both Hina and Yamame. You have a desperate urge to take things to the next level, but you also don't want to return to your earlier stage of desperation, and destroy what we have all built together.
--[x] Therefore, while you do not know what the future holds, you want to protect the bonds you have made, and ensure that they will not break.
--Promise that no matter what happens, you will always care about Yamame, and you hope that she feels the same.


This sounds very good to me.
Sometimes I feel like the only one remembering that Keymaster said there will be no routelocks right here, right now.
We're just talking to them to air out our collective troubles.


>>25609
I never said that they couldn't (or shouldn't) move past it. I just said that it's such a big part of their current relationship that glossing over it would be a big mistake.


>>25618
But the "cop out" is also a choice. Not deciding between A or B, and picking C instead, is still a choice. (Hell, even choosing not to choose anything is a choice in itself.)
If the majority chooses to go for another non-decision, then that is the majority choice and those of us not part of that majority have to settle for that due to the way these stories are written.

Besides, the third option doesn't have to mean they end up in a threesome. There are other ways to go about it too.
As long as Hina and Yamame are okay with a more open relationship, Aya could be with both, even if separately.
Eventually one of them (probably Yamame) might find someone else to be happy with and Aya can devote herself to the other, but until then there should be enough of her to share.
[x] Start by giving a brief explanation of your own life. Tell her that for a long time you were alone too. Then, with the help of your friends, you started to slowly find your way out of the darkness. It's because of friends- Hina, Yamame, and others, that you've gained more depth and become less shallow.
[x] Say that Hina has had similar issues as well. They're not your stories to tell, but if Yamame talks to Hina she might realize that they have more in common than they realize.
[x] The worst thing you fear is losing those pillars, and going back to that shallow existence. Not only for yourself, but for your friends, like Hina and Yamame. You like them a lot, and it would break your heart to see them fall like you did.
-[x] Explain that you care deeply about both Hina and Yamame. You have a desperate urge to take things to the next level, but you also don't want to return to your earlier stage of desperation, and destroy what we have all built together.
--[x] Therefore, while you do not know what the future holds, you want to protect the bonds you have made, and ensure that they will not break.
--Promise that no matter what happens, you will always care about Yamame, and you hope that she feels the same.

Accept the past, embrace the future!
Also, Yamame needs a misfortune-absorbing session. Like, soon.

As for the Being Meiling thing, what exactly is the relationship between Yuuka and Sakuya? I don't want to have to go read the entire story if someone here can just summarise it in a few words.
>>25616
Actually, she's a lot closer to Hina than Aya.

>>25630
>As for the Being Meiling thing, what exactly is the relationship between Yuuka and Sakuya? I don't want to have to go read the entire story if someone here can just summarise it in a few words.

Being Meiling's really damn good, and since this is a pseudo-sequel (it is in the same story universe, but from a different point of view and genre) I would highly recommend reading the whole thing. It's a lot more lighthearted than this, but very enjoyable.

Pleasant Meadows, the other pseudo-sequel to Being Meiling, is another great read, and comes chronologically before this one. I know that in Keymaster's OP he said that knowledge of the two other fics weren't strictly necessary, but I would still highly recommend reading them.
>>25631
>It's a lot more lighthearted than this
That's exactly why I have no interest in reading it.
>Pleasant Meadows
And that is far too dark.

Thanks for answering my question anyw-
Oh wait.
>>25631
Interesting point if that's true, all the more support for trying to set up a Trio.
>>25632
In short.
Sakuya had an interest in Meiling for some time, but it didn't quite work out.
Yuuka didn't like that everyone was always afraid of her for no reason, and Meiling was the first to really accept her.
Shenanigans.
Meiling becomes more comfortable in her newfound bisexuality, and Yuuka and Sakuya agree to share Meiling and also eachother.
Threeway ending.
You're all forgetting something. Where does Sukuna fit into this love trapezoid?

Will Aya outdo the previous protagonists and land herself not one, not two but three lovely ladies?
>>25634
So there isn't actually any serious emotional connection between the two? I assumed as much; Hina and Yamame would probably be a lot closer.
>>25635
What about the Aki sisters?
>>25635
I really hope she doesn't, to be quite honest about it. I don't even want Yamame in it either.
>>25634
>Shenanigans.
Wow, what a terrible summary.

>>25636
The important part is that Sakuya and Yuuka were both admiring Meiling from afar and ended up bonding over their mutual interest in her. When Meiling started to warm up to the idea of a lesbian relationship, she couldn't decide between them, and they didn't like seeing her struggle with her love for both of them, so they made the choice for her: both.

>"I know how you really feel. About us. So does Yuuka. That's enough. You're care about us both so much, that you're putting yourself through hell to avoid hurting us. It's a nice gesture... but it kind of bothers me to see you put yourself through all of that."
>I shrug helplessly. "What would you do in my position? Go after both of you like in some kind of harem show? It just wouldn't work."
>"Not really," Sakuya notes, "Not unless Yuuka and I were into each other as well, that is. She really is a beautiful woman, you know."
[...]
>"Allow me to explain," Yuuka says, "Sakuya and I have, after a great deal of discussion, figured out a way to remove the burden of the terrible choice hanging over your shoulders."
>"...Namely?" I ask weakly.
>Grinning at me, Sakuya and Yuuka turn their heads and kiss each other. Deeply. Sakuya wraps her arms around Yuuka's neck and her leg around Yuuka's waist. The flower youkai purrs contentedly, running her hand along Sakuya's long leg. All I can do is gape in shock, my mind refusing to register what I'm seeing before me.
>After a long, long moment, the two break their kiss and turn back to me, smiling hungrily. "Get over here," Sakuya orders.

We're already at the point where Hina and Yamame both know Aya's interested, and they just stopped hating each other, so it's hard to see this working out the same way.
>>25638
I never said it was a good summary, just a short one.
[X] Start by giving a brief explanation of your own life. Tell her that for a long time you were alone too. Then, with the help of your friends, you started to slowly find your way out of the darkness. It's because of friends- Hina, Yamame, and others, that you've gained more depth and become less shallow.
[X] Say that Hina has had similar issues as well. They're not your stories to tell, but if Yamame talks to Hina she might realize that they have more in common than they realize.
[X] The worst thing you fear is losing those pillars, and going back to that shallow existence. Not only for yourself, but for your friends, like Hina and Yamame. You like them a lot, and it would break your heart to see them fall like you did.
-[X] Explain that you care deeply about both Hina and Yamame. You have a desperate urge to take things to the next level, but you also don't want to return to your earlier stage of desperation, and destroy what we have all built together.
--[X] Therefore, while you do not know what the future holds, you want to protect the bonds you have made, and ensure that they will not break.
--[X] Promise that no matter what happens, you will always care about Yamame, and you hope that she feels the same.

This sounds good to me; I'll go with it. Even if the phrasing here bugs me, but that's my inner editor feeling annoyed at mixed metaphors.
>>25635
she's more a student/little sister in being overly appreciately of the female form without overdoing it.
Okay, the write-in takes it. Vote called!
File 139017065070.jpg - (371.92KB, 600x848, good look really.jpg) [iqdb]
25643
I heave a sigh, thinking for a moment. "How do I explain this..." I scratch my chin. Of course Yamame's confused. She was just hoping to make some actual friends, and maybe have a lover for a nice evening or two. Instead, she walked directly into a whole lot of drama, and it's really not her fault. The least I can do is try to explain things, and why everything is as messed up as it is.

I look up at her. "I don't know how much you know about my past. But I can tell you that for a long, long time, I was alone too. And I mean truly alone, with absolutely no companionship whatsoever. For someone like me, who craves companionship like it was meat and drink, this was brutal. It... broke me."

Yamame scratches her chin. "Is this what lead to you less-than-stellar reputation?" she asks me.

I nod. "It was a dark time for me. The only way I knew of reaching out was to do some pretty creepy things that pushed people even further away from me, and I didn't know that it was happening. It took meeting Hina to straighten me out again."

"Ah, so that's why your relationship is so tight," Yamame realizes.

"Yeah, that's a big part of it," I agree. "I mean, it was more than just Hina who helped me. There was my friend Momiji, and others, but in the end Hina really pulled me out of a dark spot. She hauled me out of that funk I was in, and brought me back to the person I used to be. Someone who wasn't shallow, somebody who actually thought things through and cared about the world. In the end, I was completely caught up in my own troubles, drowning in them. Everything that I did to try and get closer to people only made things worse."

"I know what that feels like," Yamame sighs.

"Though at least in your case, you never lost yourself," I point out. "Actually, you and Hina have a whole lot in common. You're both wonderful people who got a rough shake from the rest of the world because of who you were. Because of your powers, your nature."

"Well... I always kind of figured that," Yamame shrugs.

"Yeah. Anyway, Hina... she's had a lot go on in her life. They're not my stories to tell, but now that things are a bit more normal between the two of you, I'd recommend sitting down and having a talk with her. Really, you two seem like natural friends to me." I cough. "But um, please don't try to seduce her. Not while I'm trying to sort myself out."

Yamame laughs a bit at this. "Sure thing, Aya. But anyway, what you're saying is that Hina's done a lot for you. And from what I've seen, you've done a lot for her."

I nod. "That's the bond between us. It's something that we're still exploring, really. But Yamame, that doesn't mean that I can't care about you." I reach out and take the spider's warm hand. "Look, one of my biggest fears is losing one of the people that support me. They're like... pillars. Hina, Momiji, the Aki sisters, Sukuna... you, too. And I get scared for other people. I know what being alone can do to you, and it just... scares me to think of it happening to other people. I saw what was happening to Hina, and I can imagine what was happening to you, too. I don't want anyone else to break, like I did."

Yamame is silent for a moment, staring down at my hand as she strokes it. "But Aya, that brings me back to my first question. Where do I stand? Where do I fit in with you two? Am I just some unwanted interloper that had the bad luck to stumble in where she wasn't wanted?"

I shake my head. "No, Yamame. Never mind what happened today. You are my friend, and I care about you. Hina does too, and I really think you should try and make friends with her. I just... things are really screwed up for me right now. Yes, I have this urge to take things to the next level with Hina, but I'm worried about misstepping and screwing things up. And yes, there's a big part of me that wants to tackle you, pull you out of that kimono, and go right to town."

Yamame bursts into laughter at this. "Well, that's nice and blunt!" she exclaims.

"I am a pure and honest Tengu reporter," I say with pride.

"For a given definition of pure," Yamame snorts. "But okay. What's really holding you back right now is that you don't want to wreck everything you've built up for yourself."

"Myself and the others," I agree. "I have to sort things out internally, and that could take a bit. You just had the bad luck to come across me while I was still putting my poor, tattered psyche back into one piece. I... don't want to wreck all of the bonds I made just because I got a little horny, Yamame."

"I understand that," Yamame says with a smile. Carefully, she adjusts her kimono so that it looks a bit more modest. Still lovely, but not as in-your-face erotic. "And I can respect it. I just had bad timing, huh?" I shrug helplessly. "Crud. But... we're still friends, right?" There's a pleading look in Yamame's eyes that pierces me to my heart.

I slide around the table until I'm sitting next to Yamame and wrap both arms and wings around her in a tight hug. "Of course we are. We'll always be friends, and I'll always care about you, Yamame. I'd like to see you around the shrine more often so that you can be better friends with me and Hina, too! It's just... now is a bad time for me to take you up on your offer. Incredibly tempting though it may be."

Yamame returns my hug. "Thanks," she says quietly. "I mean that. And... same to you too, okay?" I nod, and the two of us hold on to one another silently for a moment, before Yamame pulls away. Then she yawns widely. "Oh... excuse me! Today's been kinda busy, huh?"

I echo her yawn. "On many levels," I chuckle. "What say we gather up the Mikami and call it a night, maybe go see some more of the city tomorrow?"

Yamame smiles at me with a nod. "Sounds great!"

We travel back downstairs to see that Minoriko and Shizuha are looking positively exhausted, having had their brains thoroughly picked by curious Oni. Sukuna had the poor judgement to drink some of the Oni's sake and is now passed out, with Goro keeping careful watch over her. Okuu apparently went home, being worried that Satori wouldn't want her out too late. Hina... looks deeply satisfied, though she perks up when we approach the table.

"Hey, you two!" the misfortune goddess calls out cheerfully. "Um... how did things go?" She looks between the two of us curiously, a lot of emotions and questions warring on her face.

Yamame sits down beside Hina and pulls her into a tight hug. "We just talked," she says quietly. "So don't worry. Now, why did you insist that we talk to each other?"

Hina looks troubled, but returns Yamame's hug readily. "I just... I didn't want to be that kind of woman. I mean, if that's what Aya wants..."

"We won't find that out tonight," Yamame says soothingly, stroking Hina's hair. "And I would never take anybody away from you. Let's just forget all about it, okay? Can we just be friends?"

Hina closes her eyes and smiles contentedly. "Sure. Thanks, Yamame." The misfortune goddess squeezes the earth spider tightly. Then she burps. Yamame gives Hina an amazed look, while Hina flushes a deep red. "I-I'm sorry!" she squeaks. "I mean, all of these Oni were coming up and feeding me their misfortune, and it was just so much, and I was snacking while feeding on misfortune, and..."

It's just too much. I start laughing, while Yamame fails to hold back some snickers. Hina just glowers at us unhappily, which only serves to make us laugh even harder. Finally, Hina can contain herself no longer, and join in the laughter. The Oni gentlemen do as well, not sure what the situation is, but always willing to join in some merriment.

After a while, the lot of us decide to trudge off to bed. It's been a long day, after all. But we all get separate rooms. It just seems like a better idea, for tonight.

----------------------------------------------------

What's the first things that happens in the morning?

[ ] A refreshing morning bath!
[ ] A filling breakfast!
[ ] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?
[ ] Attacked in the morning!
[x] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?

It'd be a wonder if with the "pressures" she has she wouldn't. If you know what I mean.
[x] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?

I wonder if that write in succeeded in leaving the door open or not for the trio down the line. I hope we didn't perma-friend-zone her.
[X] Attacked in the morning!

There are a couple of things I think this could mean, and I like most of them.
[x] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?
>>25645
Even if we did, I think it's ultimately better for everyone now that we've dealt with all the confusion. Everyone knows where they stand, so we can all move forward together.
>>25647
I wasn't expecting mediate results, just a sign that the door isn't closed.
[X] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?

I think we're on the right track, mostly. For those interested in harem end, they're in good shape, but I'm only really interested in making sure we get a happy end.
[X] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?

That write-in worked well enough for my tastes, even if I didn't get to vote.
[x] Attacked in the morning!

Reasoning explained here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Laconic/ChandlersLaw
[X] Attacked in the morning!
[x] Attacked in the morning!
[x] Attacked in the morning!
[x] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?

Voting for this just in case it involves Sukuna.
[x] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?
[x] Attacked in the morning!

Essentially have the dream sequence, and then Aya wakes up in the middle of the attack. Has a certain red and white shrine maiden decided to linger in the Underground, perhaps?
[x] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?
[x] Attacked in the morning!
[x] Attacked in the morning!

and now, for something completely different.




While I enjoy the interpersonal relationhips developing, it's time for some ACTION
[x] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?
[x] Attacked in the morning!

Yesss all of the above.

And then afterwards, a bath, maybe!?
[x] Attacked in the morning!

As nice as they would be to read, I'm seeing the strange dreams as only serving to make Aya even more frustrated and/or everything even more awkward. Or, if they're about Aya's past instead, they might distract Aya from the mission at hand: wooing our wonderful goddessgathering faith. In that case, it would be best to wait until we're back at the shrine and can take time to work through them without the chaos of the underground city getting in the way.
[x] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?
[x] Attacked in the morning!


Since there is no Momiji to slap Aya in the face with her tail in her sleep, there has to be something that interrupts her.
[x] ...Been having some strange dreams, Aya?
[x] Attacked in the morning!

>>25661
She can always be attacked by Hina's and Yamame's tails.
[x] Attacked in the morning!
Huh. Well, okay. Consider it called for dreaming and being attacked (in some manner or other).
File 139025999996.jpg - (175.11KB, 850x1200, you meanie.jpg) [iqdb]
25665
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TrZFxhrPUI)

Awwwww yeaaahhhhh.

Here we go, baby. Spider and goddess, and they're both coming just for me. Hina's in her classy dress. Yamame's in her sweater and miniskirt. And me? I am ready. I am so ready, baby.

Hina grins and tugs a ribbon between her hands. "Are you ready for this?" she asks in Yamame's voice. That's a bit odd. But yes. I am so ready. I just said that, babe.

Yamame chuckles throatily. "Because we have a lot to do tonight, sweet little crow." Which is sexy and all, except for the fact that she's talking in Papporo's voice. But you know what? To hell with it! I really don't care about that right now! Yamame and Hina can talk however they like, I just want me some action.

And action I get, as goddess and spider slowly, seductively undress one another. There's kissing involved. There's caressing involved. There's a lot involved, and I am frankly about to burst. And laying there in my lingerie, I can't keep from smiling. Ohhhh, this is gonna be great!

"This is awesome stuff!" Sukuna shouts from her director's chair. She's wearing sunglasses and is pretty much bouncing with excitement. "Now, I want the three of you to do a dance routine and then we'll cut to the infomercial!"

"But what about the sex?" I whine pitiably.

"Dammit, Aya, you can't rush art, do you understand me!" Sukuna shouts from her megaphone. "Now, I want you guys to keep playing through all of this, do you understand?" The Oni gentlemen band nod from where they're playing. "Good!"

"What about martial arts? I wanna do martial arts," Hina says, back to her own voice.

"I wanna be a superhero!" Yamame shouts in her own voice as well.

"Stop ruining my vision!" Sukuna all but screams, and Shizuha bursts into the room with a battleaxe.

"I fucking hate trees!" the leaf goddess screams as she jumps out the window. Behind her Minoriko peers into the room with a dazed expression, a long hookah in her mouth. Shrugging, the harvest goddess tap dances away.

"Well, now that's out of the way, on to the five-hour sex marathon!" Yamame declares.

"YES!" I roar in triumph.

"Right after a twelve-hour Shogi match!" Hina says excitedly, and I scream in frustration. I turn the director, but the fifty-foot tall Sukuna is too busy sewing a pair of pants. And then Momiji bursts into the room.

"You can't do this, Aya!" the wolf screams in anguish, "I'm pregnant with your child!"

Ichiro bursts in, tears running down his face. "So am I! You've got to take responsibility!"

"But we never even did anything!" I wail.

"That's because it's pure love!" the two tengu shout at me.

"All I want is to get it on like they are!" I sob, pointing it to where Yamame and Hina are getting it on while playing Shogi without me. Then the roof bursts open.

"Have no fear!" Hatate declares, diving down into the room in a superhero costume, "I'm here to save you and take you to a place where you won't get cockblocked all the fucking time!"

"That's my gig, you bitch!" Yamame screams, tears of blood streaming down her face.

"I won't allow it," Hina declares, her armor gleaming as she cracks her battle whip. "Aya belongs to me! I will be the one to please her, and no upstart girl will get in my way." The Oni band is still playing, now teenaged girl version of themselves in schoolgirl outfits, while Sukuna has a vicious feather-fight with Momiji. Ichiro is smoking heavily, and Hatate and Hina immediately get into their battle: a furious dance-off.

I start crying. "Why won't people let me have seeeeeeex?!" I wail unhappily.

"You've just been looking in the wrong place," an incredibly sexy voice says from beside me. I turn my head to see, of course, my camera. My beloved camera, as large as I am, and grinning that sexy grin at me. "Now come over here to papa, and let the cam-man take care of those needs."

"Camera!" I moan happily, wrapping my arms around my one true love as our passion resounds through the heavens with the sound of our union:

*CLICK**CLICK**CLICK*


****************************************

I wake up and open my eyes.

"What the fuck was that?" I mutter.

I'm still in my sleeping robe, compliments of the Laughing Oni, and my bedsheets have been flung into the corner. Meanwhile, I seem to have wrapped my arms and legs around my pillow, and it look like I've been making out with it. Or trying to eat it, I dunno.

"No, seriously," I groan, rubbing my head, "What the hell is wrong with my brain?"

"Did you hit your head?" a concerned Sukuna asks from in front of me. This makes me pause. Carefully, I open my eyes. Yes, in fact Sukuna is really standing in front of me, head tilted as she gives me a curious look. It isn't just another treat from my horribly tortured subconscious.

"...Sukuna, why are you in my room?" I ask.

The inchling shrugs. "I was up before you, and I heard some moaning coming from in here, so I decided to see if you were okay or needed to be sick or something." She glances at my pillow. "Um... I didn't mean to interrupt or anything. Must've been one heck of a dream!" She gives me a blushing smile. Giggling a little bit, I reach out and pet Sukuna gently on the head, causing her to purr. Gods, she's so cute.

Then Sukuna gently pats my hand to the side and sits down in front of me. "Aya, there's something I want to talk to you about," she says, eyes very seriously

I immediately perk up a little bit. "What is it, Sukuna?"

Sukuna clears her throat. "Aya, as you know, I am something of a romantic. Be they a man or a woman, I believe that everyone deserves to be told that they are appealing, and make it my duty to let people feel this way. Your instruction in this regard has been of great help to me. With that in mind, I need to let you know: Yamame Kurodani is by far the most appealing woman that it has ever been my good fortune to come across. She is basically the definition of feminine allure to me."

"She has it going on," I admit with a smirk.

"Which isn't to say that Hina and the Akis aren't lovely! Or you!" Sukuna hastens to add. "I'm saying... that skirt, you know!" Her face reddens as she speaks. "Anyway! Given that you seem to have something going on with Hina, and yet also have an interest in Yamame, I have come to issue you an ultimatum!" Sukuna springs to her feet and draws her sewing needle. "Aya Shameimaru! You are keeping all of the best girls to yourself! I, Sukuna Shinmyoumaru, hereby challenge you to a duel for the right to court Yamame Kurodani!"

I blink. "Buh?"

"You heard me!" Sukuna shouts. "You need to stop being so... wishy-washy! I mean, if you love Hina, then go for Hina! And leave Yamame for me!"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" I yell, waving my hands hurriedly. "It isn't like that! You don't understand, things are way more complicated than- would you please stop pointing your sewing needle at me? It kinda makes me nervous-"

Sukuna twitches.

Oops.

"It's not a sewing needle!" Sukuna wails, lunging at me with the sharpened... needle. I barely dodge out of the way. "It's the Shining Needle Sword! There's a world of difference! Why do people keep saying that?!"

I backpedal rapidly. "Sukuna, I'm sorry, that just slipped out-"

"I've had enough!" Sukuna yells in her tiny voice. She stamps her feet in frustration and looks up at me with teary eyes. "I'm surrounded by my ancestral enemies, but I can deal with that! You're hogging the attention of all the cute girls, but I can endure! Barely! But now you even insult my sword when I try to challenge you to an honorable duel for the heart of a beautiful woman?!" Tears of anger run down her face. "Unforgivable! I shall show you the power of my bloodline, you... you... big stupid jerk!" Waving her sword wildly, Sukuna lunges at me again.

Well. That's a crappy way to start theWHOA HOLY SHIT.

Sukuna turns into an absolute blur of motion, leaping so fast that I can barely track her with my eyes. If it was anyone other that me, that tiny blade would have struck a massive blow. As it is, with my speed I can barely keep ahead of her attacks. Furthermore, as the tiny weapon is swung around, it makes the characteristic whine of the very air being split apart. This thing is sharp. Moreover, I can sense the telltale scent of magic being infused into the weapon. An incredibly high-level technique that causes the weapon to pass through flesh harmlessly... but numbing whatever it passes through. It's sort of like danmaku without being danmaku, and you have to be very, very good in order to make it work.

So. Sukuna is currently attacking me with unbelievable speed and skill, with an absolutely flawless sword style, and is still managing enough focus to make her attacks non-lethal with grandmaster-level sword skills despite being in a mental tizzy. Also, I'm pretty sure that there's enough power there to one-shot me.

As the two of us bound around the room with Sukuna in pursuit of me, I come to the numbing realization that cute, adorable little Sukuna is probably strong enough to kick my ass.

And that's when Minoriko opens the door. "What the heck is-" I zoom past her, Sukuna fast on my heels. "-going... on...?"

"Sukuna, calm down!" I yelp, struggling to keep my night-robe closed around me.

"You're a jerk and a meanie and a pervert and a girl-hog and a sword-insulter and you won't let me peep at cute girls and... and... you suuuuuuuck!" A teary Sukuna wails. I get the feeling that pressing the sword button was a bad idea.

Unhappy inchling out to clobber me. What do I do?


[ ] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!
[ ] You have your fan! Magical wind!
[ ] Grapple!
[ ] Run until she wears out!
[ ] Get help from the others!
[X] Surrender!
-[X] Apologize for insulting her sword
-[X] Let her court Yamame with your blessing
[x] You have your fan! Magical wind!

Ranged attacks seem advisable.
[ ] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!

Don't insult the brave samurai by running or resorting to foul magicks! Face her like a tengu! Then get some tea afterwards.
[x] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!

Don't insult the brave samurai by running or resorting to foul magicks! Face her like a tengu! Then get some tea afterwards.
[x] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!

Well if this happened sooner (before the moment with yamame) and she had more of a ground than finding her attractive, I'd say go ahead, but now? Too much is in motion. But the Akis are plenty free if they don't different preferences in mind.
[X] You have your fan! Magical wind!

She's fighting with her strength? FIGHT WITH YOURS.
[X] You have your fan! Magical wind! 

Well at least it's not an ax wedding.
[x] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!


I want to know what kind of weapon there is to use around there.
[X] You have your fan! Magical wind!

One last gasp to have Aya behave like Aya...
[x] You have your fan! Magical wind!
Jeez, Sukuna.
[x] Get a weapon!

I want to see if Aya still has some skill in swordplay.
[x] Danmakufu battle! Use your camera to absorb her bullets!
-[x] "You know, I'm pretty sure she'll take us both if we just ask! She's a person, not a prize to be won anyway!"

I still wanna see Aya and Sukuna fight, just that Aya's gotta show redemption and all.

I thought the "Attacked in the morning!" option would be a tengu assassin, though.
[X] You have your fan! Magical wind!
[X] Surrender!
-[X] Apologize for insulting her sword
-[X] Let her court Yamame with your blessing
[x] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!

Or you know, we could probably just flick her.
[x] You have your fan! Magical wind!

The "effortlessly passing through flesh" thing makes me wary of any sort hand-to-hand option.

And I feel like surrendering and "allowing" her to court Yamame would be insulting to all parties involved, so we duel her face off.

From a safe distance.
[X] You have your fan! Magical wind!

Isn't the spellcard system supposed to be how things are settled anyway? Little inchling is gonna get in trouble.
[x] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!

>>25682
Eh, physical combat is included in the spellcard system. See IaMP and hisouten.
[x] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!
[X] You have your fan! Magical wind!
-[X] Use a Spell Card to try to keep her at a safe distance.

I'd vote for a specific Spell Card, but...
1) I haven't done the research as to which specific Spell Cards would be suitable, and...
2) What Spell Cards does this version of Aya have anyway?
>as the tiny weapon is swung around, it makes the characteristic whine of the very air being split apart.

I dunno if wind's going to work here. Also, we aren't even really fighting over anything, she's just raging out of pride and envy. Might as well give her the duel she seems to need.

[x] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!
[X] You have your fan! Magical wind!
-[X] Use a Spell Card to try to keep her at a safe distance.

I'm all for this. Likely possibilities for an ass-kicking aside, when was the last time Aya got a chance to throw her weight around since this whole thing started?

>>25685

Illusionary Dominance/Peerless Wind God would probably make for the best choice: A whole bunch of danmaku with darting attacks thrown in to dissuade any head on attacks.
[x] Get a weapon! Hand-to-hand!
Well, it looks like a marginal victory for using the fan, so vote called!
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