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Well, now that I know what her issue is, I might as well have a quick word with the good Sergeant. With a final nod to Katsuo, I hover over to where Kyo carefully makes her way through the forest, eyes constantly sweeping for any trouble. She's a lot more serious-looking than Momiji, but there are still signs of laugh-lines around her mouth. Firmly muscular, but still feminine. Overall, I peg her as being the type to be all business, no nonsense while on the job, but probably cuts loose when off-duty.

"What?" she asks me in a flat voice.

...There's the business side of her, anyway.

"Wanna talk?" I ask her.


"Then please listen."


Off to a good start there. "Hm. Heard that before."

"Oh? So there are other people that don't want anything to do with your little insurrection?" Kyo spits bitterly at me.

"I mean I've heard it from the elders," I say calmly, not looking at her. Kyo stops in her tracks, while I keep floating forward. After a moment, I feel the wolf tengu lunging for me, reaching out to grab my shoulder, and I jerk forward, just out of her grasp and spinning around to face her. The wolf momentarily looks surprised, then settles for glaring at me.

"Listen to what?" she asks me coldly.

"Despite what you may have heard, I don't want to start a bloody civil war that will destroy the tengu," I tell her matter-of-factly.

"Oh no?" Kyo responds, looking skeptical.

"No. I've seen more than enough bloodshed in my life. I would never wish it on my own kind. Or anyone, for that matter. There's been more than enough of it in the world." I may as well be direct with Kyo; she seems like the sort of woman to respect it.

The wolf woman just stares at me. "I've heard that in the past, we tengu had quite a history of violence..."

"Well, it's true," I tell her. "I was there. And I know why our leadership wanted us to discipline ourselves. It was in order to get our more aggressive instincts under control. Of course, it hasn't solved all of our problems as a people."

"...No," Kyo grudgingly admits. "Look, Shameimaru, It's not that I think you're totally full of shit. Captain Inubashiri has shared a few details of your past, and laid out just why you always acted like a lunatic. I can understand, okay? Even sympathize. And no, I don't like being forced to roam the same damn mountain with no ability to go any further. Yes, I realize that things need to change. But you're going too far, too fast."

"What would you recommend, then?" I ask.

"Well... go slower!" Kyo cries, causing the others to stop and stare at us. "You're going to cause a lot of instability if you keep agitating people like this! Just... why does everything have to fly apart for you to get your way?!"

"Basically, your main concern is stability for the tengu," I realize. Kyo nods, and I sigh. "Yeah... I hear you. Really, I do. I understand that I'm proposing radical change. And you know what? I have some secrets that I could share which would rock our society to the core. But sometimes, I feel that you have to rock the apple cart to effect real change, you know? Otherwise, those who favor the status quo will find some way to crush any incremental change you might want to make. Sometimes, you just have to go whole hog."

"Blah blah, I wanna burn the village down," Kyo snorts.

I rub my forehead in frustration. "No, dammit, if I wanted revenge, I wouldn't be trying to make things better for our people, I'd have picked up a weapon and charged the elders myself!" I take a breath to try and calm myself. Kyo isn't the elders' toady. She simply believes strongly that order has to be maintained, lest the tengu people turn to infighting and destroy themselves. The same as Momiji was. I have to remember that.

Then Kyo sighs. "Sorry. That was out of line."

"...It's okay," I lie. "Look. I've visited the Oni, okay? Those guys have a damned city, you hear me? They've continued to advance, and they have all sorts of incredible things down there. We haven't changed in forever, and it's killing us. We don't have some sort of splendid isolation, we have pathetic stagnation. We could be more, much more! That's what I want for our people! And I'm willing to shake things up a little bit to do it! Can you at least understand where I'm coming from?"

"Of course I do," Kyo says quietly. "And I never said that you were wrong. But... I swore an oath to the tengu people that I would protect them. Maintain the peace. A vow to the tengu as a people, not the damn elders in their palace. I want change, Shameimaru. But it sounds like your way of changing things is to throw everything we have into disorder."

"...Yeah," I say at last. "Yeah, that's what will happen. Because what we have? Is worthless compared to what we could have. Because we need to make a clean break, and this is the only way we can get out from under the thumb of the paralyzed old establishment."

"Then I can't support what you're doing," Kyo says quietly. "Respect and envy, yes. But my job is to keep the peace, and I... fear the effects of what you will do. But at the very least, I will let those I speak to know the truth: that you re honest, and you truly believe that you are doing what is right. I simply cannot stand by your side while you do it."

Her peace spoken, Kyo walks away, leaving me alone for the moment. This is what Momiji would have been like without our bond of friendship, I realize. Society has momentum, and convincing people to change their course is not going to be easy. But it has to be done.

So. Wolves that want chance, and wolves that want change, but feel duty-bound to maintain stability, even with a corrupt and useless government. What now?

[ ] Talk to Private Naoko.
[ ] Talk to Private Shuji.
[ ] Make a speech to the troops (specify content).
[ ] Enough of wolves; seek out Hatate and crows.
[ ] Take a walk and think.

So, I was checking /sdm/ out of curiosity, and I realized that I first started writing here over a year ago. It was meant to be a short, one-thread story just to see if I could actually write something on this site that wasn't absolute crap. Now I'm on the fifteenth thread of my third story. What the actual fuck...
File 139500636085.png - (110.02KB, 350x499, Surprise!.png) [iqdb]
>What the actual fuck...

Surprise, you're actually good! Now:

[x] Enough of wolves; seek out Hatate and crows.

Cuz you made me paranoid for her safety.
[x] Talk to Private Shuji.
I don't think Naoko would have much to offer, being young and all that. She's probably impressionable enough for us to change her mind, but I think we should concentrate on getting information instead. After this, I think we should get in touch with Hatate, and let her know she's not alone.

Also, I just realized something, but since it's something off-topic, I think we should wait until our next steady moment. (It could potentially be very, very good news in our struggle to liberate the Tengu.)

Over a year, two one-shots, three stories, and virtually no missteps along the way (well, except for the three endings to Pleasant Meadows, but that's just my opinion, and I'm sure few share it with me).

What I find even more interesting is that Tengu of Misfortune has effectively gone one even longer than Being Meiling, even though it pretty much just started as a redemption story for Aya, who got the short end of the stick. Now she's got a whole stick of her own. Seriously, Keymaster, did you expect To(M)F to last as long as it did?
[x] Take a walk and think.
I'd just like to point out that I've constantly been pushing for slower, gradual change. Kanako can help with that; she can present a constant pressure on the Elders to prevent suppression and allow for actual change.
[X] Talk to Private Naoko.

Because the young are the most likely to have big dreams, and still be willing to go after them.
We are in no position to ask her for favors and the only bargaining chip we could have is something we went great miles to maintain: our independence.

[x] Talk to Private Shuji.
Uh, a more progressive and free Tengu society would almost certainly mean more faith for Kanako.
At the very least we need to talk to her, as soon as possible.
>We are in no position to ask her for favors and the only bargaining chip we could have is something we went great miles to maintain: our independence.

Not necessarily; remember, bringing progress and all that soft-shoe vaudeville routine. Given how opposed the Tengu are to change, we can probably find a few dissidents who'd be willing to become followers.

The thing I'm concerned about is not whether we can convince Kanako, but if we can convince the Tengu dissidents. Kanako can talk a big talk about technology, but she doesn't seem to talk much about things like capitalism, democracy, and the social contract. I get the distinct feeling that the ones who are truly devoted to progress-- the ones who've wanted change since before Aya started spreading the good word-- might see her as a big poseur. (That would actually be a real sight to see, and any situation where we could deflate Kanako's ego would be a plus in my book, but it goes without saying that it'd bad for our goal. Keymaster, I would kiss your feet if you could get Lt. Katsuo or someone like him to read Kanako the riot act like that.)

Let's not sweat everyone else just yet. Shelve any possibilities regarding outside forces for now until we're done checking up on the Tengu.
Kanako's a goddess. She can afford to play the long game, which is exactly what we're looking for here.
[x] Talk to Private Shuji.

Next one.
Bit of dispersal to the votes, but looks like we'll be talking to Shuji. Vote called.
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Well, I think I have a pretty good idea of what the wolves are thinking. Still, might as well check in with the younger crowd while I'm here. Naoko has ventured a bit further ahead, but Shuji is nearby, so I guess that makes my choice for me, doesn't it? I drift over to him and nod. "Hey there."

Shuji nods back at me, his eyes glittering with what looks like permanent curiosity. "Hello, ma'am. What can I do for you?"

I chuckle. "Please, just call me Aya. Anyway, how's life treating you?"

Shuji thinks it over. "Not too bad, I suppose. Although, I keep getting turned over for advancement, which is annoying. I keep getting told that it's a matter of experience, but I find it a little aggravating."

I nod. "Well, given how long-lived we are, it's not like there's a lot of turnover higher-up." Not anymore, anyway. The kid should be thankful of that, really. High turnover means we're in a state of war, and nobody wants that. We just don't have the numbers to sustain it.

"I suppose," he frowns. "I guess what really gets to me, though, is just how limited my options are. I mean, I spend a lot of time down with the kappa, right?"

"Oooh, see a girl you like there?" I tease him.

"Wha... oh! No, no, no! It's nothing like that!" Shuji flusters a bit. "I mean, not to say that there aren't any pretty girls down there, which there are, but... Ahem!" He clears his throat and tries to get back on track. "No, what I mean is that I've been interested in Outsider technology for a while."

"Really?" I say, interested.

Shuji nods. "Yes. I find it interesting how humans have managed to find convenient non-magical solutions to just about anything. I mean, even in a low-faith environment, they've managed to put together some really remarkable devices that don't have the reliability issues of a lot of the kappas' gear."

"True that," I admit. There are a few exceptions, like Nitori, but most of the kappa are more tinkerers than skilled engineers. Still, they're the best source of technology in Gensokyo. "So you've been studying from them?"

"Well... not quite." An irritated frown mars Shuji's features. "You see, I purchased some books on engineering from them, and studied them quite a bit. I also make a point to go and help them with their projects whenever I have a spare moment. It's fascinating stuff! But you see, when I asked my superiors for permission to spend more time down there and learn more about their crafts, I was flatly rebuffed. Not by the Captain, who was all for it, but by those further up the line."

In other words, the elders had a snit at the idea. "Let me guess," I sigh. "They told you that a wolf's place was guarding the mountain?"

"Well, yeah!" Shuji snarls a little bit, looking irritated. "I mean, is that really the best use of my talents? I'm okay at guarding, but I can tell that I have a knack for working with machinery! Even the kappa say so, and they don't always share their knowledge, you know? And I was never interested in any of our classical arts, which seem to be the same thing over and over again, so I figured that I might be more helpful to the village if I learned something new, something that our village doesn't exactly have in abundance."

"But that would be new, different, and awful," I snort, sympathizing with his frustration.

"Apparently," Shuji mutters darkly. "So, that's my life. I have a talent, but I'll never be able to pursue it, because somebody more powerful than me is allergic to novelty, or some nonsense. And I'm not the only one. Please keep this secret, but I know that there are others like me, crow and wolf, who want to innovate a little bit, but keep getting shot down. I just don't know why."

"It's because the powers that be want to keep things the same," I shrug. "As far as they're concerned, things have worked out just fine for centuries, so why change now?"

"Because the village is boring?" Shuji suggests.

I laugh a little bit. "As good a reason as any. Personally, I think that stagnation is more than boring, it's killing us. That's why I want to change things. You've heard about that, right?" Shuji nods. "I thought so. What do you think? Wanna take a stand against the elders."

Shuji pales in response. "Um..."

I sigh. "Not exactly a roaring declaration of intent there, kid."

He squirms a little bit. "I mean... I want things to be different, yes. But... it's the elders, you know? If somebody angers them too much, you could get punished severely. Even exiled! I mean, to never see my friends and family again... that's scary, you know?"

"It is scary," I admit. "I wouldn't wish it on anybody. But if nobody takes a stand, things will never change. And then where will you be? You and those like you?"

Shuji looks away. "I know," he says quietly. "I know, okay? It's just... hard."

"The important things often are," I reply. He doesn't respond. Well, here's another reason for why I'm doing this. We tengu are perfectly capable of doing new things. Modernization, innovation; we've got the ability! But the elders are too terrified to let things change even the slightest bit, and a lot of tengu, young and old, are just too frightened to challenge their rule. Exile is a pretty big threat to level against someone, after all. Just look at me.

Well, Naoko's the only one left. Do I talk to her?

[ ] Talk to Private Naoko.
[ ] Make a speech to the troops (specify content).
[ ] Enough of wolves; seek out Hatate and crows.
[ ] Take a walk and think.
[x] Talk to Private Naoko.

Last one.
[x] Talk to Private Naoko.
Getting a good idea of the territory is critical.
[x] Talk to Private Naoko.
[x] Talk to Private Naoko.
Would be kinda mean to talk to everyone, but leave out our adoring fan.

[x] Talk to Private Naoko.
[X] Talk to Private Naoko.

Everyone should be exiled until the elders are the only tengu left.
[X] Talk to Private Naoko.

Unless we learn something game changing from Naoko, I can't really think of anything really speech-worthy to say to the wolves. We came here mainly to get a feel for the waters, and while we've now got a decent possible cross section of the thoughts and issues we can likely expect from the wolves, we should probably hold off on any uplifting declarations of "viva la cultural revolution" until we get some thoughts from crow's side of things as well.

Once we've talked to Naoko, we should get looking for Hatate. If she's alright, we can then start scoping out the situation amongst the more dissident crows.
[X] Talk to Private Naoko.

No reason to leave her out, even if she's already a fan.
Needs more Hatate. But until then

[x] Talk to Private Naoko
File 139517348967.jpg - (161.77KB, 850x1133, puppy.jpg) [iqdb]
Well, might as well finish off the interviews. I flap my wings and zip ahead to where the last member of Momiji's squad, Naoko, is leading the way through the woods. She's very focused, sweeping the terrain for anything anomalous... and yet, I can't help but think that this girl sort of reminds me of an energetic puppy!

Her eyes glimmer with excitement as she picks her way forward, zipping around as she takes in the woods with an almost childish glee. Her entire body quivers with almost uncontained energy, like she would break out into a dead run and start doing laps around Youkai Mountain if her training didn't hold her in check. Combined with the fact that she's a bit petite for a wolf, I almost want to pick her up and cuddle her!

Note to self: pick up and cuddle Hina when I get home. As an experiment.

Naoko looks over to me with a smile. "Hiya, Miss Shameimaru! Having fun?"

"Yeah, you've got a good squad here, Naoko," I reply.

The wolf private giggles. "I know! I mean, they're all really great people! The Captain's amazing, the Lieutenant's tough and awesome, Sarge is all kinds of fun when she's had a couple in her, and Shuji is so smart! I couldn't ask for a better group, you know?" Her eyes glimmer with affection as Naoko talks about her teammates. Yep, definitely a puppy.

And I mean that literally. Naoko has to be the youngest tengu here, by far.

"So, what do you think about living in the village?" I ask, wondering how such an energetic girl manages to deal with the tedium.

"Booooring~!" Naoko chants, rolling her eyes. No surprise there. "That's why I sneak out all the time. But don't tell anyone!"

That brings me up short. "You do?!"

"Oh yeah! I mean, the Captain says I shouldn't and my parents would be so mad, but a girl's gotta roam, you know? So, I go visit the kappa, and when I have a few days off, I disguise myself and go visit the human village!"


"Anyway, they have a bunch of neat stuff there, so I buy a bunch and sell it to a bunch of friends of mine. I know it's technically illegal, but who cares?!" Naoko laughs without a trace of fear. "Anyway! There's a bunch of hot guys among the humans. They smell so nice~, and they're cute, too!" She grins. "I should visit them when spring comes around, hmm, hmm~?"

I laugh despite myself. Young, energetic, and a budding black marketeer? "You should be careful," I admonish her. "If the elders find out what you've been up to, they'll come down on you like a ton of bricks."

Naoko just snorts. "You sound like Shuji! Anyway, let'em! What're they gonna do, throw me out? Hah! If they do that, I'll just go somewhere else! There's wolf youkai in other parts of Gensokyo, or I can go visit that Buddhist Temple, or maybe even your goddesses! And so I don't get let back in to dullsville anymore, so what? Just means that I'm free to wander all of Gensokyo!"

I look at the young girl in amazement. She means every word. The threat of exile is, to her, a promise of freedom. It was to me too, once. But I have to wonder how she would hold up in the long term, in a land that views the tengu people with suspicion and frustration, when she could no longer visit her family and friends among the tengu. When the village itself had decided to shun her.

Would she crumble?

Or would she succeed where I had failed? After all, things were a lot different than when I suffered in exile.

Still, better that she should never have to find out. I wish there were more tengu like Naoko and Shuji; energetic and eager to explore the world. Kyo and Katsuo have their admirable traits too, being willing to lay down their lives in defense of their people no matter how hard things get.

These then, are the wolves. Quite a diverse group. I wonder how many crows are aware of this?

Momiji comes up to my side. "So, these are my troops. They're a good sort, but you can sort of see how us wolves feel about things in general."

I nod. "Yeah, I do. There's a lot of frustration, but I imagine not all of you really want to just march off the mountain in protest."

"And start a civil war?" Momiji asks me. She shivers at the thought. I shudder at old memories. "No. As hard as things might get, most of us would rather stay the course rather than plunge the mountain into chaos. Most of us. Doesn't mean I don't wish the elders would get the sticks out of their collective butts."

"Believe me, those have been stuck there for centuries," I say absently. Yeah, I have a real challenge here, don't I? The question is, how do I get the tengu to collectively decide to change our society? This is gonna be tricky. Not that I didn't know that already.

[ ] Make a speech to Momiji's wolves (specify content)
[ ] Go for a walk, gather your thoughts.
[ ] Go look for Hatate.
[ ] Find elders, start some trouble.
[X] Go look for Hatate.

Well, we've heard all their opinions, and I'm not very experienced in the 'rousing speech' department, so I'll vote for finding Hatate and seeing how are things with the crows.
[x] Go look for Hatate.

Gathering thoughts and preparing a speech benefit most from having as much information as possible. Also, our fellow birdy-bird needs someone to look out for her.
[x] Go for a walk, gather your thoughts.
[x] Go look for Hatate.

Curious to see ho the crows differ.
[x] Go look for Hatate.

Speeches will wait until we've gathered our thoughts, and thought-gathering will wait until we have all the info.
So to the crows!
[x] Go for a walk, gather your thoughts.
[X] Go look for Hatate.

Haven't seen the crows for a bit, and this is something about ALL the Tengu.
[¤] Go look for Hatate.

Caw caw, motherfucker.
[X] Go look for Hatate.
[X] Go look for Hatate.
[x] Go look for Hatate.
Probably a stupid thought here, but... why should our aim be to change Tengu society?

From our conversations with the wolves at least, all of them want to see changes in the system; even the one most strongly opposed to it was doing so because of fear of disruption, not because she thought the idea was intrinsically wrong.

How feasible would it be to simply organise a peaceful split, so to speak? If there are enough people on our side, one possible aim could be to have those unsatisifed simply seceed from the rule of the elders in favor of starting up a new settlement with new rules. This way, those that prefer the old way can stew in their own juices as long as they want, while the progressives can advance without facing resistance from the old gang and inertia.

I dunno. Just a random thought.
The problem is that even those who want change aren't ready to just leave everyone and everything they know just because they want to occasionally go down to the village or talk to the kappa.

If they split, even peacefully, you can be damn sure that they won't be welcome back again because the Elders are stupid like that.

Although, if we stir things up a bit, that's probably what's going to happen anyway. The Elders will panic and exile all the "subversive elements" and suddenly there are two villages. The original, and a smaller one that actually gets shit done because they haven't had a stick up their ass so long that it's grown into a fucking tree and they can now absorb nutrients from their gods damn chairs.
Katsuo and Naoko seem to be pretty willing. But yeah, a lot of Tengu don't want to leave their home, and leave their family behind.
Maybe instead of an all-out confrontation, we could try some civil disobedience, à la the Civil Rights Movement, or Occupy Wall St. We can organize a sit-in or something, and openly defy the elders without actually causing any harm to anybody. It might help if we brought someone powerful with us (Yuyuko comes to mind immediately, but I think there are others) to keep the elders from threatening us with physical force.
File 139526683588.jpg - (105.51KB, 850x850, new ace reporter.jpg) [iqdb]
Well, I've seen what the view is like from one side of our society. Time to see how the other half lives. I mean, yeah, I'm a crow tengu myself, but it's not like I've been a part of polite society for quite a while.

With a final farewell to Momiji and her squad, I flap my wings and take to the sky as the vastness of Youkai Mountain spreads out below me. Seriously, we could make a killing off of tourism if the elders would let us. Screw those old farts so much. Anyway, where to go to find Hatate?

It turns out to be easier than I thought in the end. A few wolves on stationary patrol saw her heading generally westward of the mountain, and are more than willing to share the information with me. I do get a few curious looks though. The kind of look that you'd send someone who might conceivably be thinking of tearing apart civilization as you know it, and you're not sure if that's a bad idea or not.

Kinda my first time seeing that expression. It's hard to describe, honestly.

I set out westward at a slow, relaxed pace, searching for the junior reporter (can I really call her a junior when I'm not reporting?), only to catch sight of her airborne a few minutes later. Hatate notices me as I flag her down and zips over to me. "Hey," she greets me.

"Hey yourself," I reply. "So, anything interesting?"

Hatate smirks at me. "What planning on scooping me, are you?"

I shake my head. "No newspaper, remember?"

"Aww, you should start it back up," Hatate says with a sad expression. "Who else am I going to strive to top, huh?"

I chuckle. "Honestly Hatate, given the tripe that I was pushing for years, that wouldn't be too hard."

"The content was questionable at times, maybe," Hatate says hesitantly, "but the work itself was excellent. Hey, it got me out of the house."

"I'm not saying that I don't want to," I try to emphasize, "I'm just saying that I have a lot going on right now. Somehow, I went and got myself turned into a shrine maiden. Besides, I'm starting to wonder if there might not be other ways for me to record the Truth."

Hatate shrugs. "To record the Truth, one must uncover it in the first place," she points out. "And there aren't a whole lot of people doing that these days."

"Now that's a sad case of the Truth," I sigh. "Anyway, didn't you tell me that you wanted me to meet some fellow crows?"

"Yeah, I was planning to meet a few of them for lunch, along with Ichiro," she replies. "We basically get together and, well, talk politics. Bitching about the elders is pretty much the village's communal pastime, you know."

"No kidding," I snort. "How many people are willing to get up and do something about it, then?"

Hatate sighs, which is about all of the explanation that I need. "I do. Ichiro has been surprisingly intense about it lately, too. As for the others... well, you'll see. One of my friends is really vocal about how much she hates the elders. The other is a good guy, but is awfully pro status-quo, if you know what I mean."

"Hm. Any romance in there?" I ask with a teasing grin.

"Buh-wha?!" Hatate squawks, flapping in mid-air. "I, but, you- where the hell did that come from?!"

"Ohhh, you know," she says lightly. "I mean, my personal life has been going pretty well as of late, so you can't blame me for wondering if my dear junior is taking care of herself. Or making sure that she's taken care of, you know what I mean~?" I wiggle my eyebrows suggestively.

"Why the hell would I share information like that with you?!" Hatate shouts, completely red in the face.

"Because I told you all about Hina and I?" I suggest primly.

"Urk..." Hatate comes up short. "Er, there's honestly nothing in that regard," she says awkwardly. "I'm a single lady, and loving it."

"Yeah, just wait until you get somebody warming your bed," I tease. "It'll do wonders for you!"

"Why are we talking about my sex life?!" Hatate wails.

"Because you're adorable, and so much fun to tease," I giggle. "Remind me to introduce you to Yamame, that lady can teach you all kinds of things. With hands-on training, if you like! I'll put in a good word for you."

Hatate just glowers at me. "The more things change..." she sighs. I just start laughing merrily, and after a moment Hatate joins in. It feels good to laugh with a fellow crow. It's good to know that at least a few of my kind like having me around.

We finally get a hold of ourselves just as we descend to the streets of the tengu village. It's a bit busier than when I arrived here yesterday, owing to the time of day. Hatate and I are both the subject of a number of stares, which she shrinks from instinctively. Me? I throw an arm around the younger tengu's shoulder and lead the way through the crowds without a single care in the world. In fact, I make sure to give each of our would-be critics a jaunty wave, which makes many of them reel back in shock. Others give a private thumbs-up.

I consider giving Hatate a big public smooch just to screw with everybody's head, but aside from upsetting Hina (I think), it would more likely hurt Hatate rather than help her. Note to self: bring Hina to village, then make out with her in public, just to mess with everybody. Well, maybe not; Hina probably wouldn't appreciate that. Probably.

"You really know how to handle a crowd," an amused Hatate notes, already walking straighter.

"Public shaming can go fuck itself," I whisper back, and Hatate laughs.

She eventually leads me into a small restaurant and directly to one of the tables there. Hatate must be a regular, I figure. At the semi-private table are three figures. One of them is quite familiar: Ichiro is perusing a menu, and smiles when he sees us, waving cheerfully.

This causes my brain to short-circuit for a moment.

"Aya? Are you all right?" Ichiro asks with concern.

"Yeah, just a bit thrown by the, you know, visible facial expressions," I say, sitting down across from him.

He chuckles. "I get that a lot. Apparently, the general consensus is that I had a metal pole surgically inserted up my rectum."

"Eh, don't feel so bad," a female crow says dryly. "That seems to be a standard trait for you male crows, you know?"

Hatate's other friends, a stern-looking male crow, scowls at this remark. "Kaede, I must tell you that this is highly disrespectful to all of the hard-working men of the village, and unworthy of a woman of your standing."

Kaede looks at me and jerks a thumb at the guy. "See what I mean? That's Hiro, by the way."

"Wow," I say, giving Hiro a long, impressed look. "With that attitude, I think you could be one of the elders themselves."

"I know, right?!" Kaede exclaims. "I mean I work at the town hall as a secretary, and he has the demeanor down pat!"

Hiro gives a long-suffering sigh, and looks at Kaede tiredly. "You know, I could just about take your statements as a compliment-"

"You always were good at self-delusion," Kaede quips, making Hiro grunt.

"Hey all," Hatate says with a grin. "I brought a guest today. Hope you don't mind."

"Not at all," Ichiro says, nodding at me with a warm smile. "It's good to see you again, Aya."

"It's baffling to see you emote, Itchy," I comment. He laughs in response.

"Hmm, the rebel herself comes to visit," Kaede grins with a flap of her wings. "Now this could be an interesting meal!"

"Oh, for the days of reliable boredom," Hiro says sadly, giving me a wary glance. Yeah, I'm guessing that this guy isn't exactly a fan of mine.

Anyway, might as well, talk to someone to break the ice while we wait for service.

[ ] Talk to Hatate about her day.
[ ] Talk to Ichiro. Since when does he emote?!
[ ] Talk to Kaede. She works for the elders?
[ ] Talk to Hiro. He's the model of a tengu male.
[x] Talk to Ichiro. Since when does he emote?!

Bros before hoes (and assholes). More seriously though, we already know Ichiro, so it'll be a nice way to break the ice with the others if they see us chatting with him. Plus, it'll be interesting to see how he's changed after his experiance at the Mikami Shrine.
[x] Talk to Ichiro. Since when does he emote?!
[ ] Talk to Ichiro. Since when does he emote?!

IIRC, he did seem to be more receptive last time we met him. Maybe he's changed a bit.

However, my vote's going to:
[§] Talk to Hatate about her day.
[x] Talk to Hatate about her day.
[x] Talk to Ichiro. Since when does he emote?!

We already heard how Hatate's doing in general, and we haven't seen Ichiro in a while. She brought us here to talk to them, so let's talk to them.
We all know when he first started Emoting. It was when he confessed that he was the scout who alerted the tengu to that civilian village. It's not that surprising.

[x] Talk to Hatate about her day.

You can never have enough Hatate.
[X] Talk to Hatate about her day.

Sure, let's start with Hatate.
[x]Talk to Hatate about her day.

Hataters gonna Hatate.
[x] Talk to Ichiro. Since when does he emote?!
[X] Talk to Hatate about her day.
[x] Talk to Ichiro. Since when does he emote?!
[x] Talk to Hatate about her day.
[X] Talk to Ichiro. Since when does he emote?!

Then Hatate, Then Hiro, Then Kaede. Unless I misread the names, I haven't really slept...
[x] Talk to Ichiro. Since when does he emote?!

We know him and Hatate, and we've already had a bit of a chat with her, so let's see how our favorite stick-out-of-the-mud is doing.
[x] Talk to Hatate about her day.
Vote narrowly called for Hatate!
File 139534786913.jpg - (124.84KB, 850x531, doctor this.jpg) [iqdb]
"So, Hatate, how was your day?" I ask.

She shrugs in response. "Eh, fairly uninteresting. You know how it is, not every single day has is exactly loaded with news-worthy material. I understand why some issues of the Bunbunmaru were so thin now."

I sigh. "Yeah, and whenever that happened, I got people demanding to know why the paper was getting so small. It's hard keeping a schedule when there isn't much going on. I mean, who wants to know how many cows got sick, or what the elders were wearing at a pre-meeting."

Kaede snorts. "There's a few bean-counters that I can think of that would be absolutely fascinated by those details."

"Which ones?" I ask.

"Both of them."

I wince. "Ouch. Sounds like the bureaucracy has gotten even worse over the centuries."

Ichiro raises his hand. "I can confirm that suspicion. Believe me, the folks upstairs absolutely love their daily reports."

"They are an essential way of keeping track of the village's progress," Hiro says haughtily. This nets him a few blank stares. "What? Am I not entitled to my opinion, even if it doesn't match your own?"

"Oh, sure," Hatate says evenly. "I just can't help but remember that time you had some sake in you, and said how much you wished you could burn down the hall of records and everything in it." Hiro chokes in response.

Kaede smiles and pats the man on the shoulder. "Don't let him fool you; the guy's a traditionalist, but he's a big softy at heart." Hiro mutters darkly in response and signals to the waiter to come take our orders.

After placing an order for drinks and a nice light lunch, Hatate turns back to me. "Well, overall today was pretty slow. Still, there's usually something that I can report on. Apparently Byakuren and Miko had an encounter the other day which damned near devolved into a fistfight. I got some pictures of Byakuren afterwards, and she had this look on her face... like she was trying to be serene but really wanted to punch somebody."

"Those two should just hurry up and have sex," Kaede quips.

Ichiro winces. "I feel like reality itself would have to warp for something like that to happen."

"Naw, it'd make a great story!" I insist. "The romance of our time! Love spawned in the seamiest reaches of hate!"

"Sounds like an awful bodice-ripper story," Hatate snorts

"Some people would want to read it," I sniff.

Kaede raises her hand. "I would."

"Kaede, you're a dear friend, but your taste in literature can be very doubtful at times," Hatate laughs weakly. "Anyway, that was one of the biggest stories of late. Cirno is still running around being a big superhero. There's a lot more flash that actual performance there, but people like reading about her. Your own new faith is getting a lot of favorable attention, by the way! Oh, and did you hear that the Kirisames have taken over Rinnosuke's old shop?"

"I seem to recall hearing that from someone," I muse. "Never really followed up on it, though."

"Well, that fairy Pameel is the store clerk, and apparently she just keeps hauling in business. She's pretty sweet, I've talked to her before." Hatate thinks it over. "Then there's that fairy at the Scarlet Devil Mansion who made a public petition for the world's largest bonfire and marshmallow roast. Nobody's really sure what to make of that. Um, beyond that, it's pretty much been the same old, same old."

Which was one of my rationales for filling my Bunbunmaru with special editorials. Say what you will about the content, those photos sure filled up the pages. Along with, you know, violating everyone's privacy and utterly destroying my reputation.

"Yeah, running a newspaper can be pretty tough sometimes," I admit, reminiscing fondly.

"But if it isn't fresh, it isn't news," Hatate sighs. "Still, I consider it a challenge to overcome. Be first on-site to the latest breaking stories, and if nothing else, at least let people know that things are a-okay in Gensokyo." She pauses. "Of course, those editions don't sell nearly as well..."

"Welcome to my world," I grin. "Yeah, running a newspaper is a story in its own right. That's why so many reporters lower themselves to reporting gossip. Don't do that, by the way. Use me as an example and don't do that stuff."

"I dunno, you did a lot of stuff right," Hatate says encouragingly.

"Thanks," I shrug, "But believe me, I know better than anyone what my fuckups were." Hatate doesn't respond to that.

Hiro clears his throat. "Incidentally, Hatate... how are things going with your parents?" Though his face is as stern as ever, there is a gentleness to his voice as he speaks to Hatate.

The young crow just shrugs in response. "About the same. Still thrown out of the house, still living at Captain Inubashiri's. I'm not going back anytime soon, either."

"I can't believe they did that to you," Kaede glowers. "And this all happened because you wouldn't doctor your articles?"

"Hatate is the most prominent reporter in Gensokyo these days," Ichiro notes. "It's no surprise that they'd want her in their pocket."

"And of course, all I had to do was make 'little changes for the good of the village.' Like I didn't know where that was leading." I glance at Hiro as Hatate speaks, but the man just looks away awkwardly, seeming troubled. "Anyway, whatever. I believe in the Truth, and I won't be a hypocrite. I don't care who it pisses off."

"Here, here!" Kaede cheers. Ichiro nods approvingly, as do I. It looks like some of my words got through to Hatate. Still, I hate this. They're putting the same pressure on her as they did me.

Conversation slacks a bit after that, and our drinks are served to us. Well, at least Hatate is putting a brave face on things. Maybe I should speak to these other crows while we're all here.

[ ] Talk to the surprisingly laid-back Ichiro.
[ ] Talk to the worried-looking Kaede.
[ ] Talk to the silent Hiro.
[ ] Do something else (specify).
[X] Talk to the worried-looking Kaede.

Why is she suddenly "worried-looking"?
Now I'm curious.
[x] Talk to the worried-looking Kaede.
Boy troubles? Girl troubles? Aya can help with both, at the same time if necessary!
[x] Talk to the worried-looking Kaede.
The way the option was phrased made me curious.
[x] Talk to the surprisingly laid-back Ichiro.
[x] Talk to the worried-looking Kaede.
I agree with the concern over "worried-looking".
[x] Talk to the surprisingly laid-back Ichiro.

I want to see why he's like that

Though knowling Keymaster, Byakuren/Miko would end up a pairing
>Though knowing Keymaster, Byakuren/Miko would end up a pairing.

I hope not. Hatate just said they just all but had a scuffle. Even though I do 'ship Byakuren/Miko, I don't like seeing it as a rival-angst 'ship like Kaguya/Mokou, or some people's interpretations of Reimu/Sanae or Aya/Hatate.

...unless Keymaster reveals that they're actually the best of friends and fight only to keep the devotees faithful.
>>Though knowing Keymaster, Byakuren/Miko would end up a pairing.
>...unless Keymaster reveals that they're actually the best of friends and fight only to keep the devotees faithful.

What a tweeest! Well, I'm sure everyone else will vote for Kaede and Ichiro, but I want to hear from

[x] The silent Hiro
This is Keymaster, knowing him he'll probably subvert our expectations in some manner or another

That being said, After this is over lets visit the Kirisames.
not when it comes to yuri pairings.
Ah, but if we expect him to do that, won't he then subvert those expectations, just to keep us on our toes?

Keymaster's good because he keeps it interesting, keeps us guessing. It's part of the fun.
[x] Talk to the worried-looking Kaede.
[x] Talk to the worried-looking Kaede.

Because problems come first.


I never could get rivalshipping. Are you interesting in getting kissy with someone who's politically obnoxious toward you? I can see Byakuren/Miko working if a) their rivalry's a farce or b) they're raising Kokoro together (as in here: http://donmai.us/pools/7142).
[x] Talk to the worried-looking Kaede.
[X] Talk to the worried-looking Kaede.

Color me interested...
To be honest, the only reason I 'ship them in the first place is because of the sheer outpouring of Butt-Monkey Miko, frequently being made the brunt of jokes, with Byakuren being the one beating up Miko in some way.

I know it's character derailment in the Nth degree, but it kept me from being a fan of Byakuren, and turned me into a big fan of Miko, overblowing her importance and scrupulousness.

Would that make me a victim of the Taoist propaganda machine?

>Would that make me a victim of the Taoist propaganda machine?

Nah, you like Miko for the same reason others made her a butt monkey: caring about the victimized.
File 139543405537.jpg - (161.65KB, 850x695, feeling protective.jpg) [iqdb]
I raise my eyebrow at Kaede. "You look awfully mopey all of a sudden," I comment. "Something wrong?"

Kaede jumps a little bit, startled out of her musings. "Oh? Oh! No, nothing like that, I just..." She trails off for a moments and then sighs. "Well, okay. Maybe I do have something on my mind. I have for a while. It's about you, Hatate."

Hatate blinks a little bit, startled. "What about me?"

"Well, you know how I work up at the hall, acting as a secretary, right? And how the elders really don't pay much attention to the 'help,' and just let us do whatever?" Kaede rolls her eyes. "I mean sheesh, you'd think we were just part of the scenery or something."

"Well, the elders do have a great deal on their minds, Kaede," Hiro shrugs. "You can hardly blame them for not paying attention to every last detail of their aides."

"Except for the fact that they will have very detailed conversations about very private matters, even talking about how it's secret and not to be shared with anyone, and we're right there in the room with them," Kaede spits.

"An expression of trust?" Hiro suggests.

"No, they just honestly forget about their adjutants," Ichiro shrugs. "It can be quite awkward. I mean, I'll be standing there, waiting for one of the elders to notice me in order to make a report, and sometimes one of them will just nod off. Heavens forbid that you would actually call out to get their attention; that would be against protocol."

I roll my eyes. "So in other words, they've gotten even worse that they used to be."

Ichiro grimaces. "Well, I was never THAT bad, now was I?"

"You were on your way," I comment.

"I miss the Ichiro who was such a dedicated public servant," Hiro sighs.

"Hey folks, mind if we get back on track here?" Kaede says crossly. "You know, the wolves make jokes about how us crows chatter when we get together." There's some embarrassed coughing at this, and I gesture at Kaede to continue. "Thank you. Anyway, the short version is that a few of them were talking about Hatate."

That makes me sit up straight. "I guess I should have expected that."

"Well, I am the main source of news in Gensokyo now," Hatate says primly. "No other crow has my knack at selling to non-tengu. Well, except for you, Aya."

"Yeah, we've touched on that," I say absently. "Kaede, what is this about Hatate?"

"Well... it's great that Hatate is independent and all, because she's gonna need it if things don't change soon." Kaede looks very worried. "See... a few of them are annoyed that Hatate is being 'disrespectful' as they call it, and they're talking about ways to bring her into line. Limiting her movements, maybe forcing a taste of exile on her, that sort of thing."

My mind freezes.

"Saw that one coming," Hatate murmurs.

"They... wouldn't actually go that far, would they?" Hiro asks, now looking worried himself. "I mean, our leaders must take a firm grip on things for the sake of the village, but exiling a young crow for perceived disobedience... that seems a bit extreme for them."

"They'll do it," Ichiro says grimly.

"It's not like they go out of their way to make our lives difficult...!" Hiro sputters.

"Yeah, but none of them are as useless as all of them," Kaede says glumly. "In private, the elders might be hesitant to be so hard on Hatate. But all together? They're like a collective of crusty old bastards. I swear, if my home wasn't here, I'd be tempted to just pack up and take off!"

"You wouldn't actually do that, would you?" Hiro asks, sounding troubled.

Kaede smiles faintly and pats him on the arm, very gently. "Nah, don't worry. But not all of us have the same faith in the elders that you do, Hiro. A lot of us are sick and tired of this same old shit. That's something that you have to understand."

"Kaede, please don't take this the wrong way," Ichiro says gently. "But for all you complain, you don't really have a list of ideas on how to change things, now do you? Nor are you exactly marching in the street with a placard."

Kaede winces. "I guess not, huh? Maybe I'm just a hypocrite, then. I mean, I hate how things are, don't get me wrong. But I can't just up and leave... my whole family is here! And there's a lot of pressure to not rock the boat."

"This is the same boat that is threatening to exile Hatate," I point out, voice very quiet.

This causes the table to go silent. Ichiro nods grimly, while Hatate stares defiantly, unbroken and unbowed. Hiro and Kaede can't seem to looks us in the eye. "No matter what the elders throw my way, I've lived through worse," Hatate says firmly. "And I'm not going to be told what to do, or how to live my live, by a bunch of old men and women who haven't left the village in decades. That is my final word on things."

I could just hug this girl. Hatate, you've really gone and grown up.

The discussion gets broken up by the delivery of our food. I eye Hatate and Kaede for a moment. One is a crow perfectly willing to risk everything for the sake of her principles. The other hates the status quo, but is a little too comfortable in it. That leaves Ichiro and Hiro.

[ ] Talk to Ichiro.
[ ] Talk to Hiro.
[ ] Call Kaede out on her attitude.
[ ] Ask Hatate if she has any back-up plans.
[¾] Talk to Ichiro.
Kaede needs a little push to get her on our side, but we don't need to "call her out" per se, hence my vote.
[x] Talk to Ichiro.
> I can't just up and leave... my whole family is here!

[x] Call Kaede out on her attitude.
-[x] Why don't you try talking to your family. You clearly hate it here. Unless you have an entire family of Hiros, I'm sure at least one member of your family will sympathize with you, and possibly even be willing to move out with you.
[x] Call Kaede out on her attitude.
[x] Call Kaede out on her attitude.
[x] Talk to Ichiro.

I'd like to see what's going on with him especially since he turned a whole leaf over. Kaede's already gotten one update and well... her attitude isn't unusual.

Sometimes trying to push too hard will backfire.
[X] Talk to Ichiro.

Hearing from him about why he changed is a subtle way of influencing others to do the same.
[x] Talk to Hiro.
We need a voice of moderation, not just in this discussion, but in the village in general. Someone who can stand up and say 'hey, everyone calm down, instead of doing something rash, we should just talk about this'.
I think Hiro could be that voice.
[X] Talk to Ichiro.
[x] Talk to Ichiro

I'm still curious about what Hina had to say to him in private a few threads back. I wonder if that's what gotten him to chill out?
[x] Talk to Ichiro
[X] Hug Hatate.
[x] Give Hatate a quick hug.
[x] Talk to Ichiro.

Kaede understands the hypocricy of her attitude already, and calling her out on it won't help. We're more likely to annoy her and push her away than anything else.
Let's just remember that while she's not going to rock the boat herself, she won't stop us from rocking it a bit and leave it at that.

Ichiro is also very knowledgeable about the inner workings of the bueraucracy, in some way even more than Kaede, so let's get his take on things.
He is also, as >>27081 pointed out a very good bridge between those who are sick of things and those who are afraid of change. He's been a respectable high ranking bueraucrat for a long time, and has many connections, but he also understand that we can't leave things as they are. Change is a part of life so if we don't change, we die. Slowly but surely.
[x] Give Hatate a quick hug.
[x] Talk to Ichiro.
[x] Give Hatate a quick hug.
[x] Talk to Hiro.
[x] Give Hatate a quick hug.
[x] Talk to Hiro.
[x] Talk to Hiro.
The most loyal servant is the harsheast when betrayed.
Okay, voting is in favor of talking to Itchy. And giving Hatate a hug, because why not?
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We eat in silence for a moment, the seriousness of the situation clearly getting to all of us. Kaede frowns down at her meal, while Hiro keeps sparing her glances. I have to wonder if there's something else going on there. Hatate eats calmly, but her face is a bit pale, and she eats slowly. I can see the deep, troubled thoughts in the young crow's eyes and wonder if I had that expression myself at one time.

On a whim, I reach over and wrap an arm around Hatate's shoulder, drawing her into a one-armed hug. She doesn't resist, just sighing and leaning into my embrace, wrapping an arm around my waist in response. It isn't normally acceptable in the village to show affection publicly like this, but I'm past the point of caring.

"Thanks," Hatate whispers to me.

I nod back. "You gonna be okay?"

"Yeah, I just have to stay the course is all. If I give in now, they win, and I can't let that happen, you know?" Hatate smiles weakly, but I can tell that everything is weighing on her. Poor girl shouldn't have to go through this.

The two of us disengage, and I glance over at Ichiro, who is watching the two of us solemnly. He nods when he notices my attention. "Funny how things change. A few weeks ago, I probably would have just been muttering about how the elders are doing what they deem necessary, blah blah and all that."

"I remember when you were a devoted civil servant," Hiro sighs. "I miss those days now."

"I don't," Ichiro says seriously. "You're young, Hiro. You don't remember what I remember. And frankly, I've come to the conclusion that certain old traditions need to be dispensed with."

"Damn, talk about a change in attitude," I say with a grin. "So, what came over you, exactly? Get laid or something."

"Actually, yes!" Ichiro says brightly.

I stare at him. "You're fucking with me."

"That's what she said," Ichrio says smugly. I kick him in response. "How hostile, Aya."

"It was a terrible pun," I snort. "But seriously, you went and got yourself some action?" Ichiro nods serenely as he picks away at his food. "Huh. Funny just how much good that seems to do us, isn't it?"

"Why are we talking about our sex lives again?" Hatate sighs wearily.

"Because it's fascinating material?" Kaede suggests, giving Ichiro her full attention.

"So really, Itchy, what happened?" I interject. "Last I saw you, you were getting thoughtful about things, and now you seem... different. Relaxed, you know what I mean?"

"Well, the short version is that after I last saw you, I went and did some serious soul-searching," Ichiro tells me, looking off into the distance. "After getting fairly drunk trying to deal with certain memories, I decided that I needed to get away from my office and the piles of paperwork that I was certain were looking at me with judging expressions."

"Paperwork youkai?" Kaede suggests. "Stranger things have happened."

Ichiro shrugs. "Who knows? Anyway, I decided that I needed to get the hell away from the office, but I was sober enough to realize that if I started staggering around drunk, the authorities would want words with me. So, I decided to just slip off the mountain."

"Damn." I give a low whistle. "That must have been some serious soul-searching."

"Well, there was a lot of liquid courage involved," Ichiro admits. "Anyway, I was flapping through the skies, thinking about past misdeeds, and found myself flitting towards the human village. I hid my wings to avoid any awkward explanations, and basically went on a pub crawl. I woke up next to some human woman, feeling sore. I still remember the experience, though. She was a tough woman." He grins. "Just what I needed."

I start laughing. "What happened then?"

"I was mortified and got the hell out of there," Ichiro replies. "Then I started to regret doing that. I have no idea if I woke up in bed next to a prostitute, a fellow pub-crawler looking for some cheap sex, or what. I kind of wish I knew who she was. Sure helped me let out some stress, though. I mean, I had bruises!"

"And that set you straight?" I laugh.

Ichiro shrugs. "I've just come to the conclusion that while the village might be worthy in its own right, we as a people have been supporting a number of traditions that are no longer worthwhile. Besides, I want to go visit the human village again." He sighs, and looks off into the distance a bit dreamily.

Poor Itchy. I hope that woman wasn't actually a prostitute. Still, it looks like the man is ready to see a little reform in the village, which is a big change from how he used to be. Maybe all I really need to do is lace the well-water with some aphrodisiac.

...No, the place would probably burn to the ground if I did that. Never mind.

Well, the meal is almost over, but I think I have time to talk about something else.

[ ] Talk to Hiro.
[ ] Comment on Kaede's attitude.
[ ] Ask Hatate if she has any back-up plans.
[ ] ...Are Kaede and Hiro doing it?
[ ] Talk to Hiro.
Hmm... Somehow, I get the feeling Itchy's human woman wasn't a human at all...
A vagabond, can become human, and is often portrayed as drinking... Do we know anybody like that?
[X] Talk to Hiro.
Well, whoever it is, she was able to bruise a youkai. Maybe it was Suika? That would be a shock to Ichiro.
[ ] Talk to Hiro.
he did say woman, not girl. I wonder if it was Keine, gunna have to wait and see about that.

[x] Talk to Hiro.
[x] Talk to Hiro.
[X] Talk to Hiro.
[X] Talk to Hiro.
-[X]...Are Kaede and Hiro doing it?

We should ask it in a way so only he can hear us. For maximum Fun.
If nothing else, it should at least get some sort of emotion out of him, he's almost as bad as the old Itchy.

Also, here's to hoping that Itchy found an "or what". (Meaning not a prostitute and not just someone looking for some cheap sex. He could do with some regular TLC, judging by how how much good a single night did him.)
[X] Talk to Hiro
[x] Talk to Hiro
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As we finish up the last bits of our meal, I take a long look at Hiro, who has gotten progressively more disturbed as the meal, and conversation, went on. "You okay there?" I ask him.

"Hm?" He glances up at me. "Oh, yes, thank you for asking. It's just that I don't necessarily hold quite as negative an opinion of the village as some of the others here do."

"Yeah, good ol' Hiro," Kaede sighs. "The absolute first person to talk about just how wonderful the elders are."

"I never said that," Hiro sighs irritably. "It's not like I'm an unthinking, unfeeling drone who simply marches in step to whatever the elders wish. I'm not a fool; I know that they aren't infallible, and it is painfully obvious that some of their decisions have been questionable at best, heartless and pointless at worst. I feel that they are mishandling Hatate's situation terribly, and I do believe that the current status of the wolves is regrettable. I know how capable are canine brethren are; they deserve better."

"But?" I prompt him.

"But, like it or not, the elders are the oldest and wisest of all the Tengu in the village," Hiro says firmly. "They're the best suited to the job. They have seen the centuries go past, and have the wisdom to make informed decisions. A younger council might be more dynamic, but they would also have less experience, and would make entirely avoidable mistakes. No, our leaders may not be perfect, but they have held this village together for ages. Why demolish a social construct that works just fine? Why not polish the edges, and make it work better to suit the modern era?"

I nod in appreciation. "Not a bad argument. But not one that I can agree with. The problem is that the elders are trying to hold the village in an era that they are familiar with, and thus can manage better. And yes, to a degree that works just fine. However, the social problems that we see today aren't new; they've been around since the village's system was first instituted, and they still aren't rectified. They never will be."

Hiro frowns. "That's a rather large accusation to make, Miss Shameimaru."

I snort. "The wolves have been frustrated about their lesser position for ages, and people have been grumbling about the elders' heavy-handedness for just as long. Now, I will grant you that at one time, all of this served a purpose. It really did. But that purpose is long in the past, and is no longer the slightest bit relevant. The elders are trying to keep the village exactly the same, while the world beyond our borders keeps changing. And we aren't ready for it. Remember when Kanako showed up and took over as goddess of the mountain? Holy crap, nobody was expecting that! And we just weren't flexible enough to deal with the situation."

"That was a totally unexpected occurrence, and Kanako's institution wasn't bad for us..." Hiro protests.

"Now, that can be taken several ways," I point out. "Honestly, nobody is very happy about Kanako just showing up and barking out orders. You know as well as I do that the Moriya Shrine is tolerated and deferred to with gritted teeth, because we just can't do much else about it. But here's the thing: Kanako is at least forcing the tengu to modernize, just a bit. I mean, the kappa have been allowed in to make certain modernizations to the village, and nobody minds those. And remember how newspapers caught on? Which were easily made by technological printing presses?" It feels weird to praise Kanako, given my misgivings about her, but credit where credit is due, and all.

Hiro nods slowly. "I... suppose that you have a point there," he admits.

I nod. "The world is changing, and the policies that elders want to institute, or rather have kept instituted, are no longer relevant. We live in a very different place, and our leadership won't let us change to adapt to modern circumstances. We can change for the better without losing our culture as the Tengu people. I just think that we haven't been allowed to truly develop that culture. It's something that I want to change."

Hiro is silent for a moment. "What really concerns me is that you seem to regard the elders as an uncaring, impersonal force that looks scornfully down on the people from on high," he says slowly. "Given your past, I suppose that's understandable. But Miss Shameimaru, I deal with the elders on a regular basis. I speak to them in confidence. And for all their flaws, they care. They know that there are problems, and they want to deal with them. It's just that it is much harder to effect change than most people seem to think. I feel that they deserve more of the benefit of the doubt, and bit of time to set things right."

"Maybe they do care, in their own way," I say quietly. "But any group that honestly thinks that exiling a young girl, whose only crime was wanting to explore and report the Truth, is the proper way to hammer her into being whom they want to be, has too many flaws to be tolerated any more. Or do you think that Hatate should be thrown out of the village for her actions?"

"Of course not," Hiro hisses. "I would never wish that upon a friend! But neither do I feel that tearing down the very pillars of our society would lead to anything but chaos!"

"And I feel that incremental change would fail utterly, because those in power would do everything in their power to completely quash it," I say firmly. "Sometimes, you just have to build yourself a new house when the old one is falling apart around you. Everything is stagnant here, and I intend to do something about it. Because we're better than this, better than sitting around on our mountain, griping about how much better things used to be."

Hiro doesn't respond.

The conversation pretty much peters out after that. Hatate's crow friends fly off to their respective jobs, and Ichiro nods to me before walking down the street. Hatate gives me a hug before flying off to do some more reporting. That leaves me alone in the middle of the tengu village, with not a whole lot to do.

So. Now what?

[ ] Confront the Elder Council.
[ ] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.
[ ] Go for a Hina-recharge.
[ ] Write-in.
I like how no one in this story seems to have the slightest idea how old Aya is. Any time she talks about how things used to be, how long things have been the same, or the kinda stuff she's seen, they treat her like she's only 10 years old. She was there at the beginning and was the strongest Tengu, and may very well still be with or without a sword, there was.
"Oh the elders are so old and wise" Aya might actually be older than at least some of the elders.
[x] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.

I don't think charging in right now would be the greatest idea.
[x] Go for a walk and have a random encounter gather your thoughts.
[x] Go for a Hina-recharge.

Charging in right now wouldn't be good and I can't resist a Hina choice.
[x] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.
[x] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.

Random wandering is the best way to advance the plot
[X] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.

Yeah, let's go with this.
[x] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.
[x] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.

Plot hooks ahoy!
From what I remember, she IS older than some of the current elders.

[x] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.
[X] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.
She was there before the Tengu changed their form to today's, before there was any order.

She's as old as them, at least.
[X] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.

I'm starting to think that tending the grassroots are all good and well, but if change is to happen they will need someone to publicly rally behind as well. Just someone they can point to and say "yeah, what she said".
Tengu society doesn't seem like much of a democracy (I don't know what to call it actually. It's run like a dictatorship with all power at the top, but it's a council rather than a single person) so it's not really like Aya can "run for office", but she could always pull a Gandhi and organize non-violent protests. Just gather up everyone who are discontent with the current situation and have a big sitdown somewhere public.
Just to show the Elders (and everyone else) that there are a lot of people who want things to change, but they aren't going to start a civil war or anything.
And nobody but Aya needs to be more than a face in the crowd, so there's no real danger involved for anyone else either. (Assuming of course the Elders don't go full retard and overreact about it.)
Hell, they could even just make it a giant picnic to have a "legitimate excuse".

Yeah, it's kind of weird how so many of them don't seem to realize that Aya is old enough to be their grandmother.
She not only knows, but had lived through literally the entire history of Tengu society.
I think if she wants to get things done, she might have to emphasize that point to some of the "Hiros" out there.
Besides, wisdom comes not with age but experience. And who's more experienced? The elders who sit in place and desperately cling to yesterday? (Yesteryear? Yestermillenium?) Or Aya who has gone out and seen all of Gensokyo, both high and low?
[X] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.

The word is Oligarchy, and that's my point exactly. Aya is about as old as most of the elders. If someone wants to show her as inexperienced, any could point to a wonderful painting the Oni had made, showing a bit of how she used to be.
Yeah that's exactly what I was thinking. If I was as old as the very society we live in, and someone tried to shoot down my ideas because some old geezers, who may not be older than me and haven't been outside the village in thousands of years, are 'wiser and more experienced' I'd sure as hell say something about it.
Thanks, that's the word I was looking for.
[x] Go for a walk and gather your thoughts.


I wonder if Aya knew Byakuren and Yuyuko back when they were squishy mortals.
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Well. Not much more I can do right now. Stomping into the chambers of the elders would be incredibly satisfying, but it really wouldn't gain me anything. I have a good idea of what my people are thinking now; I just have to work out what to do about it. Which is, naturally, going to be the hard part.

I sigh. Screw it. I need to clear my head. Flapping my wings to take me clear of the streets, I make my way over to a fairly secluded part of the forests enveloping the mountains. There are, at times, some pretty dangerous ferals making their home here, but I'm honestly not worried. Others may have forgotten it, but I'm not exactly helpless in a fight.

Landing, I take a moment to appreciate view from the mountain, the sounds of the leaves blowing in the breeze, and the taste of the fresh mountain air. This place is actually pretty relaxing. Back when I was living in seclusion, I would often find comfort in wandering these paths alone, just enveloping myself in the sights and sounds of the mountain, that peaceful white noise that fills the silence.

...It's nice, short term, but years of it can really wear on you. You start to long for the comfort of somebody's arms, the sounds of laughter and conversation, all of the things that make up a society. Hell, just thinking about it makes me want to fly back to the shrine and snuggle up in Hina's lap for a nice snooze. Still, I need a moment to get my head straight and think things over. Hina's probably busy dealing with worshipers right now, at any rate. I send a fond prayer my goddess' way and start to walk the mountain paths.

Honestly, Hiro kind of annoys me. He's entitled to his opinion, sure, but his unflagging defense of the way things have always been irritates me; I'm a lot more familiar with how things have always been, having lived through all of those years. They aren't good, and they could be a lot better. I'm also irked at how he never even considered that I might know what I'm talking about. You know, over a millennium of experience and all that, having been with the tengu since pretty much our very beginning.

Then again, that's the effect of reputation. I've pretty much destroyed whatever I may have had, and I'm certain that the elders are working hard to keep people from having much regard for me. That is, if they see me as an actual threat, which they probably do. Annoying, but I knew that I'd have to work to get my respect back, especially from my own people. It's a lot easier to get people to listen to you when they think that you know what you're talking about.

So. Get the tengu to believe in me in order to get them to listen to me. Tall order.

Then again, it's not like I have no options here. I have ancient documents, accounts of what actually happened on those ancient days that caused the formation of tengu society as we know it. A bit of Truth might do our people a ton of good, humbling those that believe we can do no wrong, while pointing out just how outdated some of our traditions are. Especially the ones making wolves second-class citizens.

Some pictures of the Oni's city would probably also help. Hey guys, you know how proud you are of retaining these ancient traditions? Well, have a look at our former bosses, and all they've accomplished while still remaining true to themselves. Seriously, if there's anything that could jump-start progress, it's seeing the Oni one-up us.

Hell, maybe what really needs to happen is for me to publicly call the elders out on their bullshit. It would likely result in them pulling all support away from the Mikami, but we're too well-entrenched for them to even consider moving against us. I have no interest in running for the leadership of the village, but maybe I could be the face that shows my people that there are, in fact, other options. Options that don't involve sitting on our collective asses while the world passes us by.

Or maybe I really do need to just bust some heads. Prove my worth in the most direct way possible. At the end of the day, us tengu are still youkai. Fairly civilized youkai, but we still enjoy a good fight, and respect strength. Actually, I think we respect strength a little too much, but that's neither here nor there.

So, yeah. Options. I got'em.


Mikami save me, I really have no clue what I'm doing here.

Objective: save my people from a slow, stagnating death by making them actually engage the world and show some respect for those from other walks of life. End result: a new people that the other residents of Gensokyo are actually happy to see, and maybe even look up to as respected members of a greater society. Method to accomplish this: I have no fucking clue.

"Who knew that planning a revolution would be so tricky?" I chuckle to myself.

"Well, large scale change is never easy, little crow," a deep, feminine voice says from behind me.

I freeze mid-step.

Godsdammit. I knew this was coming. I knew it. I just didn't expect it to be now.

Slowly, I turn around to see a very familiar figure sitting calmly upon a boulder that I'm certain was vacant not a moment previously. She sips calmly from a sake cup, looking at me with contemplative eyes. Contemplative, serpentine eyes.

Kanako Yasaka smiles at me. "May I offer my assistance?"

[ ] Calm
[ ] Angry
[ ] Dismissive
[ ] Afraid
[ ] Respectful
[ ] Curious
[ ] Ignore
[x] Curious

Wanting to learn is always the best option.
[x] Curious

Little crow really Kanako?
Well hell, this has got "divide and conquer" written all over it.

[x] Calm

Let's hear Kanako out, but without being too overeager; it'll only end up tipping the situation in her favor should she want to strike some sort of bargain.
Hohoho, it's come to this, has it?

Let's see if Kanako's willing to play ball.

[x] Calm
This update made me really glad I brought up Aya's age.

[x] Curious

Until we know what she wants there no reason to be rude or anything. She might have something useful to say.
[x] Calm

We knew that we'd have to talk to her eventually. But really, 'little crow'?
[×] Curious
-[×] but cautious.

Phrasing her greeting like that, Kanako has something for us. She might have a deal for us to help liberate the Tengu, or she might be here to bully us. Hopefully the former.

We shouldn't be optimistic, but we shouldn't be defensive, either.

We should also remember that she has a huge asset that could help us get support from all over Gensokyo, which I'm surprised no one has brought up until now.
[x] Curious
How old is Kanako, exactly?
The way you emphasized huge, are you talking about the robot?
[x] Curious
As she said, being the priestess of change is hard
[X] Curious

Our last two run-ins with Moriya personnel went well; maybe we can make it three for three. Or maybe the other shoe's about to drop.

Either way, no reason not to at least start on a good note.
[X] Curious.
--[X] "... to be quite frank, yes."
[X] Curious.
-[X] "... to be quite frank, yes."
Er, no. I have no idea what you're talking about.
OK, seriously? Everyone was so apoplectic about it last thread, and everyone forgot that Akyuu became a Moriya Shrine devotee?
Oh, right. I think everyone just decided that it wasn't as big a deal as we were making it out to be. Since you brought it up, maybe Kanako intends to use her as a bargaining chip.
But if we get into a good deal with Kanako, we can employ Akyuu to spread the truth about the Tengu's plight.

Also, Keymaster, I'm going to be seriously upset if you turn Kanako into a exploitative bitch after telling us not to be so paranoid about her.
[X] Curious

Honestly I'd like to see what Kanako has in mind as she hasn't done anything truly agressive
[x] Curious
That's mostly bad because it means we can't get her. Kanako's denied us an asset that we actually really needed quite badly.
Now that's she's got her, there's not much she can actually do without looking like a colossal bitch, or Incident instigator.
Even the Moriya fear the Hakurei Hax.
This is assuming kanako did so with Mikigami in mind as opposed to a general move. If things with Kanako works out, well it might not be as denied as we'd think.
[X] Curious.
--[X] "... to be quite frank, yes."
[x] Resigned
- [x] "Well, you can offer."

We have good reason to be resentful of Kanako's help, even if it's sincere: for her, it's a power grab. She's betting that in the aftermath of the (by now, probably inevitable) rebellion, she'll be able to slither her way deeper into the new (or changed) tengu power structure, or to otherwise exert more influence over them.

This isn't incompatible with actually caring about the tengu, or seeking wolf/crow equality, or wanting (what she sees as) the best for them. But if those are among her end-goals, she'll help anyway, even if Aya doesn't make a deal with her; and if they're not, well, we shouldn't be dealing with her at all, should we?

(Accusations of wanting the same thing will roll off Aya like water off of a lotus leaf. Even if the rebellion is successful, she won't (want to) be part of the power structure; and the Mikami are likewise filthy kamis commies. "We're goddesses of the common people; how can they believe in us, if we do not believe in them?")

Aya may be thrice their age, someday or now, but I think she'll never be as old as they are.
[X] Calm

C'mon people, use the poker face here. Remember how Suwako said Kanako doesn't know when to stop plotting? We shouldn't give away any intentions until we find out why she came to us.
Something to note is that Kanako is likely intrigued with the Mikami. Here's what she had to say about the Akis in Part 5 the Symposium:

"Nearly all stray gods without shrines get reduced to youkai. Gathering faith is a difficult task [...] because there are so many other more famous harvest gods, like Ukanomitama, and all the faith ends up going to them. I think [the Akis] should become something like "the goddesses of roasted sweet potatoes" by combining their powers, and set up a nice kiosk in some corner of the human village to earn a moderate amount of faith."

And now they’re part of a holy trinity who’re doing pretty good for themselves, all because a disgraced tengu was assigned to a charity-case goddess.
[X] Curious
[X] Calm

Because we were completely prepared for this, right? Right?
[x] Calm

Use those skills you learnt as Tengu noble! Be completely unflappable no matter what she says.
Aya doesn't care much for Kanako, so pretending like she does projects a false sense of naivete, hence, "Curious".

Man, after we managed to settle down, everyone's all riled up again now that Kanako's actually appeared. C'mon, guys, think calmly and logically, and stop panicking.
[X] Calm
-[X] Curious

She has a strategy in mind, it's very much in her nature. This said, Keymaster tends to write inherent elements of characters as persistent side elements, rather than as major ones. (It's straight up a driving theme in this story, since Aya started with what is now a minor character trait as the dominant element of her personality.) As a war goddess, Kanako will benefit from combat, but she's done plenty (in canon, even) to make sure that everybody, or at least the majority, wins. After all, if people get hurt, she loses potential followers. Point is,what she has to say will be worth considering, even if we discard it.
[x] Calm
[X] Calm
-[X] Curious
[X] Curious.
--[X] "... to be quite frank, maybe."

Kanako is pretty much in the optimal position to help us with the Tengu. The opinion of the elders is all well and good, but it has been pretty much outright stated in this story that Kanako was able to push herself into a position of leadership, so it's obvious that she has a great deal of influence over them. She's honestly our best bet at pushing the Tengu onto our side of the fence.

That said, she's going to ask for something if we ask for her help. She's just too much of a planner not to take an opportunity if it's presented to her, so if we want to deal with her we need to be willing to give something up. Chances are that she's probably going to ask something in regards to the Mikami and religious politics, but we might be able to offer her something else.

See, the Mikami don't really have that much of an investment into the Tengu at this point. Sure, they could probably stand to gain a great deal if the Tengu changed and became a more open culture, but they have no direct reason to actually intervene in the village at this point in time, especially since doing so would probably rile up Kanako more than anything else. This entire "change the Tengu" initiative is probably going to need to be spearheaded by Aya and her Tengu allies, and while I'm sure that the Mikami will probably be very willing to lend some support to Aya it's probably going to be troublesome for the shrine at best.

I kinda doubt that Aya would finalize any deal with Kanako unless she's had a chance to at least talk it over with the Mikami, but we have to keep in mind that we can offer things that are not related to Aya's religion. An example that comes to mind is having Aya owe a favor to Kanako, although we'd probably want to be very specific about what she could or couldn't make you do.

That said, the Mikami probably has a good portion of Kanako's attention at this point, so I'm not sure if she'd even be interested in any other offers. If this is the case, we should remember that we don't necessarily have to ally with Kanako directly. We could promise something more passive, such as saying that the Mikami faith won't make any significant initiative to convert the Tengu, who are technically under the Moriya faith. This might hurt the Mikami in the long run, but getting Kanako's support would almost certainly be a great boon in Aya's efforts to change her people.

tl;dr: Since the Tengu initiative doesn't really have that much to do with the Mikami, we might want to consider trying to avoid using the Mikami faith as a bargaining chip. Also, helping the Tengu and supporting the Mikami can be mutually exclusive, even if Kanako is probably going to try her hardest to make sure they aren't.
this is assuming there's much overlap, like it's been sad Kanako's a planaholic.
Our efforts with the Tengu have absolutely nothing to do with the Mikami. The discussion with Kanako should reflect this.
[X] Curious.
--[X] "... to be quite frank, maybe."
[X] Curious

It can't hurt to at least hear her out. We don't need to agree to it, just because we listen to her offer.

And yeah, we should point out to her that this is Aya's personal business, not Mikami business.
Just so she has her facts straight about who and how she's helping.
Okay, gonna go and call the vote for curiosity. But calmly curious.
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I force myself to remain calm. Yes, Kanako is very likely the biggest existential threat to my shrine right at the moment, and yes, Suwako pretty much came out and said that the goddess in front of me had some plans in mind regarding it. However, paranoia isn't going to get me anywhere here. We're secure, we have the backing of powerful forces, and Kanako has to realize that. We aren't simply some prize to be snapped up.

On the other hand, I remain wary. Her somewhat checkered track record notwithstanding, Kanako is still a devious schemer, a war goddess used to taking on challenges, and I still don't trust her not to have a plan in the back of her head. At least a little bit of caution is entirely justifiable, here.

But that doesn't mean that I can't find out what she's thinking right at this moment.

"Lady Yasaka," I say with a formal bow. "To what do I owe the honor of the attentions of the mighty goddess of Moriya shrine?"

Kanako chuckles, low and deep. "Come on, Shameimaru. I have to deal with that kind of talk all the time from your supposed elders. Don't you go using it on me, too."

I straighten back up. "Fair enough. Nice job sneaking up on me, by the way. There aren't a lot of people who can pull that off."

Kanako shrugs. "Goddess. Stealth is an entirely integral part of war, after all. Care for some sake?" She holds out a bottle and cup, and after a moment's deliberation, I choose to accept.

"Oni brew," I note, feeling the alcohol burn a path down my throat.

Kanako nods. "A useful side-effect of having interests in the underground. I get easy access to some of their products. Very nice work establishing a presence down there, by the way; I never even considered getting any Oni as followers. They generally aren't the most devout of beings."

"You seem to have a knack for getting unexpected followers," I comment, watching Kanako carefully.

"You mean Miss Hieda?" Kanako shrugs. "She's been a bit more open-minded of late, and I made a few easily-enforced guarantees to her. The rest was history. It's more of a polite alliance than having a devout follower, but who am I to quibble over details?"

I watch the goddess carefully. She's completely relaxed, seemingly just enjoying the day. You wouldn't think that she just offered to help me overthrow the social order. "How long have you been watching me?"

"In the short-term? I saw you walking around and decided to introduce myself. I just happened to arrive in time to overhear your little statement." She smiles. "Long-term? I've been watching you for a while now, Shameimaru. Your interactions with Lady Kagiyama were naturally of great interest to me. Bravo, by the way. You've taken three nearly-forgotten goddesses and turned them into a stable faith here in Gensokyo. Perhaps I should have recruited your expertise myself a long time ago, hm?"

I don't respond to that. "Why do you want to help me?" I ask.

Kanako gives me a look. "Do I really need to answer that?"

"Humor me," I reply. "I can make some guesses as to why you'd want to help me, but I want to hear it from your own lips."

"Fair enough," Kanako shrugs. She gets to her feet, and I can't help but note just how tall the woman is. She towers over me, and I'm not exactly short, especially in my geta. "There's the rather obvious points about just how damned intractable your people are, for starters. It is very difficult to have worshipers visit my shrine when there are so many hoops to jump through for them to do so. Some of which were deliberately put up by your leadership."

"They're not my leaders, but I won't quibble either," I snort. "And yeah, spite is something they're very skilled at."

"Truly," Kanako says. "But there's more than that. I may be an unexpected variable to your people, but I have tried to conduct myself as the goddess of the mountain to the best of my ability. This may utterly shatter your view of me, but I do, in fact, care about those who follow me, be they human or any manner of youkai. I want what's best for them. And your people, the tengu, are dying."

I take a deep breath. "I know."

Kanako stares at me long and hard. "Gensokyo was made as a place of refuge. It's an odd little microcosm, a world within a world, where the old ways are maintained. But even this place is changing, something that was true long before I set foot upon its soil. Do not your new patrons embody this? By refusing to go with the changing times, your people are letting themselves get ground down. If things don't improve, the tengu will eventually be forgotten. This never bodes well for a youkai."

I take a deep breath. "So. You want better access for your followers, and you want to tengu to be more open and reasonable in general," I note. "Plus, it might be helpful to have dealings with a leadership that wasn't so damned uncooperative."

"I dislike politics," Kanako growls. "I can play the game of course, anyone in my position must, but your people are entirely too obstinate. Yes, I would very much like to deal with leaders who aren't actively attempting to sabotage everything that I do. Which they do, by the way, even the plans that are expressly helpful to them."

"It's something new, proposed by someone they see as an interloper," I comment. I look over at the war goddess. "You have a plan, then?"

"Several, actually. But I don't know which one would work best." Kanako folds her arms. "On the other hand, here you are. A tengu who dislikes the current order. One with a great deal of history and experience under her belt, who has finally remembered herself. I think that I could offer you a great deal of support, should you be willing to accept it."

I glance over at her. "You know of my past?"

Kanako chuckles. "I'm even older than you are, Shameimaru. I knew of you back in your prime. Imagine my shock when I saw you with my own eyes and witnessed a wretched pervert. Imagine my pleasure at seeing the old stories about you were true after all. A fine recovery." She raises an eyebrow. "I know of your fall. And I also know that there are many young tengu who are eager for something different. Will you truly stand aside while they are made to suffer as you once did?"

"You already know the answer to that," I growl. "I admit it, Lady Yasaka. I need help, and you're certainly one to give it. But I need to be clear on this: this would be an agreement between you and me. Assuming I do agree to anything. My goddesses, the Mikami, would have nothing to do with it."

"Do you honestly believe that?" Kanako asks gently. "The goddesses of change, having no place in the fundamental upheaval of a centuries-old social order? Those whose stated purpose is to preside over changes for the better, to assist people in times of transition, would really stand back and do nothing in such a trying time? Especially when it involves patrons of theirs? I find that very unlikely."

For a moment I'm silent. Hina, Shizu, and Mino... could they really stand back and do nothing? Would they? Or would non-intervention just make hypocrites of them?

[ ] What do you say to Kanako?

This is probably going to be an extended dialogue, like what I did with Yuyuko.
[X] "Let's hear those proposals first, then."
[x] Maybe you're right, maybe they will support a revolution as goddesses of change. But that's not their only purview, and I will NOT be making any decisions for them.
[x]What I mean to say is that I won't use them as a bargaining chip for your aid. What they do is their choice and I won't let you use them as pawns.
[x] Indeed, I now realize that their offers to help me are more than a matter of friendship: it's their call as much as yours and they should be involved in this as much as we.

So Kanako wants to break her own hold in the Tengu people? Good for me: after all of this works, the entirety of Youkai mountain will be fair game
[X] "My goddesses help those who help themselves, and the elders do not want change. This is why I did not come to the village as an emissary of the Mikami but as Aya Shameiaru. Therefore, I will hear your plan and decide for myself who should be involved.
-[X] "If a youth wishes for guidance in opposing the elders, he is free to pray to the Mikami. However, the goddesses themselves hold no agenda for the tengu village and so do not feel a need to directly intervene."

It feels important to give reasons behind Aya's actions, not just state what the actions should be.

Also, I believe that we defined each type of change that the goddesses would hold. I'm pretty sure it was as follows:

Minoriko: Cyclical changes, ie: seasons and years
Shizuha: Incremental, inevitable change, ie: phases of life
Hina: Sudden change, ie: adapting to new circumstances

Therefore, significant change to the tengu village would be Hina's domain, and it is not completely inappropriate for her to be involved.
[x] The Tengu people are proud. Knowing that they needed to beg for the help of another party in order to survive... it would hurt them, deeply. They would never accept the Mikami forcing change on them, and I would never ask them to do so.
-[x] They need to decide for themselves that it is time to change. The Mikami can only help AFTER that happens.
[x] Maybe you're right; maybe they will support a revolution as goddesses of change. But that's not their only purview, and I will NOT be making any decisions for them.
-[x] That said, let’s hear those proposals.

Let’s be realistic here, it’s pretty unlikely that the Mikami would want to stay out of this. Even if we put the religion and their focus on change aside, the three goddesses owe a lot to Aya, Hina most of all. She was basically the driving force that started and guided the group to become what they are today and it’s pretty unlikely that they wouldn’t want to help Aya when she needed it in return. In fact, I’m guessing that it would be much more difficult to convince the Mikami not to help in Aya’s efforts. But until we actually get to discuss all this with them we should make it clear that Aya isn’t representing any opinions and decisions except for her own.
[x]What I mean to say is that I won't use them as a bargaining chip for your aid. What they do is their choice.

I like most of this vote but I edited out the last bit to seem less confrontational.
[x] You should listen to Sanae more carefully next time. The Mikami are the goddesses of day-to-day change. Helping the people through their daily problems. A whole revolution? A massive social upheaval would be akin to WAR, and that's your domain. This is not their fight, but mine alone.
[X] "What I mean to say is that I won't use them as a bargaining chip for your aid. What they do is their choice."
-[X] "In any case, they're goddesses of day to day change, not revolution. They're more help for cleaning up the mess when the war is over than they are for waging the war in the first place."

Though they may not be gods of revolution, you can consider at least two of them to be goddesses of rotation.
[X] "What I mean to say is that I won't use them as a bargaining chip for your aid. What they do is their choice."
-[X] "In any case, they're goddesses of day to day change, not revolution. They're more help for cleaning up the mess when the war is over than they are for waging the war in the first place."

Well, Keymaster, I think we've got our parting comment.
[X] "What I mean to say is that I won't use them as a bargaining chip for your aid. What they do is their choice."
-[X] "In any case, they're goddesses of day to day change, not revolution. They're more help for cleaning up the mess when the war is over than they are for waging the war in the first place."

This sounds good to me. "Change" can mean many things, and re-making an entire society isn't exactly something that the Mikami do.
Snark is fine and all, but letting our goddesses out of this without hearing their opinions is as bad as getting them signed up for this without warning you know? And let's boy even begin to count all the missing faith and te fact that this is actually the right thing to do for the Tengu.

Finally, you should do your own research more carefully. They're the goddesses of change in general: day to day-long term and sudden and unexpected to be precise. What kind of Miko are you guys?
The power is missing, bu certainly not immaterial.

Also, yeah, point. >>27178 here, removing the second bit. We can just let them make their own choices.
I think we should keep the second part in, not to show the Mikami won't help us, but to tell Kanako they won't exactly jump in head first.

I have no doubt that Hina, Minoriko, and Shizuha will want to help Aya, but if we make Kanako think that, she's going to think she can get a favor from the Mikami in exchange for helping the Tengu. We need to avoid that until we can talk to the three of them again.
[x] "Let's hear those proposals first, then."
-[x] Hear her out first before snarking at her. The phrase "when push comes to shove" doesn't apply to someone tapping you on the shoulder.
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I feel my hackles raise a little bit. There's a trap here, I'm sure of it. Kanako seems just a little too keen on getting the Mikami involved in all of this. Or maybe I'm just getting paranoid, afraid of bringing a threat own upon my new home. Either way, I need to address this.

"What I mean is that I refuse to use them as a bargaining chip in exchange for your aid," I say slowly. "What the Mikami do is their choice, not mine."

"Quite so," Kanako says with a raised eyebrow. "You've been a good shrine maiden to them, and have helped them establish themselves. But at the end of the day, you are a devoted servant to your goddesses. What do you do when the Mikami inform you that they wish to get involved in this upheaval, to smooth the transition of change?"

"I'll explain to them that there is a time and place for everything," I assert. "My Mikami are the goddesses of change. They are not the goddesses of revolution. I have no doubt that they'll be there when the fireworks have faded, to help clean up the mess afterward, but they won't be waging the war."

Kanako just chuckles again. "That nervous of me, are you? You have nothing to fear, Shameimaru. I have no grudge against those you serve. Indeed, it does my heart good to see them reminding people of the value of faith! Besides, it's not as if they're stepping on my toes or anything."

"I never said I was nervous of you," I point out.

"No, but you certainly imply it with your mannerisms and words," Kanako responds. "You were the one who worried about them being bargaining chips. My point is different: that as the goddesses of change, they will feel honorbound to help the tengu, to assist them through these times of difficulty. Not all changes happen overnight, Shameimaru. What about those changes that take place over an extended period of time? Those that leave fear and confusion in their wake? My point is that the Mikami cannot simply stay out of such a jarring shift in a society's course. Not given what they represent."

"They know better than to get in the middle of a cultural revolution," I scoff. "Especially one happening to a people as traditionally isolationist as my own. Part of who they are is being unobtrusive. They won't go forcing themselves where they aren't wanted. After all, are the tengu not your people? Aside from me, that is?"

"You make a fair point," Kanako admits. "Personally, I feel that the presence of deities so devoted to easing transition through difficult times would make the process much less painful for all involved, but if you insist, I'll drop the subject."

"Please do," I reply. "I said it before, but it bears repeating: the Mikami are not goddesses of armed revolution."

"Maybe not, but in some senses at least two of them can be considered goddesses of rotation," Kanako says with a perfectly straight face.

I stare at her for a long moment.

"That was horrible," I say at last.

Kanako snorts. "Blame Suwako. She made that joke once, and Sanae laughed for an hour at least." The war goddess frowns. "Actually... speaking of Sanae and crop rotation... what the devil is the thing with potatoes all of a sudden?"

I feel the groan coming from deep in my gut before actually vocalizing it. "Please tell me she isn't," I beg.

"I mean, I have nothing against potatoes, but this borders on obsession," Kanako says, looking a bit disturbed. "I mean, she got like this after visiting your shrine, so... what happened?"

I lower my face into my hands. "Reimu was having marital problems. She was drunk."

"And this explains why Sanae keeps burying herself up to the neck in dirt, then?" Kanako presses.


She considers this for a moment. "I'm glad I missed that little scene, in that case," the war goddess says at last. "The damnedest thing, though? It's really improved soil quality around the shrine."

I stare at her. "You're kidding."

"No. The ground has never been so fertile." Kanako shrugs. "Suwako thinks it's hilarious, but she tells me that it's good for the mountain, so... some innate, hidden wisdom of the Harurei? I have to wonder about the potato aspect, though..." she trails off, staring into the distance with a bemused expression on her face.

Oh, Sanae.

After a moment, Kanako shakes her head. "Never mind, I got off-topic. My point is, you have nothing to fear from me, Shameimaru. I'm not asking you to bargain away your deities in exchange for my aid. Remember, I have a vested interest myself here."

"Fine. As long as you understand that what the Mikami do is their choice, not mine," I assert.

Kanako smiles faintly. "My point exactly. So, shall I get to my ideas, or do you have some of your own to share first?"

[ ] Kanako's ideas.
[ ] Your ideas. (Write-ins)
[ ] Before we get to that, there's something else... (Write-in)
[x] Kanako's ideas.
hahahaha miracles
[X] Before we get to that, there's something else... What is Kanako's stake in all this? Does she just want the Tengu as worshipers or does she want them to be free to make their own decisions from this point on?
-[X] Clarify that this isn't anything against Kanako personally, but it wouldn't do the Tengu any better to get out from under the Elders rule, only to be told by someone else what to do?
In my mind there are two basic ways that we can influence the Tengu to change. Internally, which mainly includes motivating the Tengu people to change themselves, and externally, which involves bringing in people outside of the Tengu to help the facilitation along.

If we had more ideal circumstances the normal course of action would be to keep things internal; to introduce ideas to the Tengu slowly, let them permeate naturally and guide people along as new ideas come forth. Unfortunately, the Elders have created an atmosphere that would probably stagnate and destroy any initiative that doesn’t pack a punch to it. While there might be ways to internally change the Tengu that I might not be thinking of, the only ways that I can see internal change influencing the Tengu with the way things currently are is either by having members of the Tengu people secede from the village at best, and by having a civil war on our hands at worst, neither of which would probably be that appealing to most of us if it’s avoidable.

External change will probably not be very good at forcing the Tengu to change their mindsets either. After all, the Tengu are a prideful and powerful people; even if some outsiders started to come in and try to make changes it isn’t likely that any of them would actually stick. Kanako herself just admitted that the Elders do their very best to sabotage every initiative that she tries to introduce. The fact that they won’t listen to their own goddess just goes to show how much they are willing to keep new influences out of the village.

And yet, I can’t help but feel that there is one external group that could undoubtedly have a huge positive impact on the village, without having to even try. So here’s my vote.

[X] Why don’t we try to get the Oni to help us?

If you think about it, most of the Tengu are probably (rightfully) terrified of the Oni due to what occurred in the past, which would work in our favor since it would keep a lot of them from sabotaging the introduction of new ideas. And since we know for a fact that the Oni have transformed themselves into a race of gentlepeople, there really isn’t much of a risk of those fears coming true. Even if the Tengu eventually catch on to the fact that the Oni aren’t a threat to them anymore, by the time they try to act on that we’ll probably have already caused a huge deal of change to begin with. After all, if a Tengu is able to work up the nerve to ask an Oni to leave, doesn’t that mean the Tengu has changed, even if it’s only a little bit?

Convincing the Oni to help out would also probably be a relatively easy task, since I’m guessing that a lot of them are still feeling guilty for what they did to the Tengu in the past. Giving them the chance to help redeem the race they once enslaved would probably seem like a prayer come true for many of them.

I’m aware that there are some weaknesses in this plan. For one thing, the Elders could very well work up the nerve to ask the Oni to leave the village, which would probably be a very effective counter tactic. And there might be Oni who don’t want to get involved at all, thinking that trying to influence the Tengu again would be going down the wrong path. But even so, I can’t help but see trying to get the Oni to help us as something that has way more positive potential than negative. At the very least, it would be hilarious to see half of the Tengu village faint when they see an Oni gentleman walking down the streets.
[×] "Before we get to that, there's something else..."
-[×] Apologize to Kanako for being suspicious of her.
I think we came on a little too hard.

If we need to address the whole, "Don't force the Tengu into becoming devotees" thing, then phrase it like this:
-[×] "Some of the Tengu might not be inclined to support you. A lot of them who see you as an outsider rather than a leader. We can't give off the impression that you have ulterior motives. I'm inclined to believe you, but will they?"
This addresses our concern about whether or not Kanako will force anyone to become devotees, without making Aya look any more suspicious of Kanako.

You know, that's crazy enough to work...
[×] "You said you have good relations with the Oni, right? I've been absolutely amazed at how far they've come since the days when they subjugated Youkai Mountain, and now look at them."
-[×] "Bring Oni up to the Tengu village to show them how much they've progressed, compared to the Tengu."
-[×] "Wound their pride a little-- do so under the guise of 'showing them what a civilized society looks like.'"

Here's what I was thinking, too:
[×] "If Akyuu is willing to talk to youkai, can we talk to her about the plight of the Tengu? She'd be an extremely effective way to get the message out to the humans."

So... Your thoughts, guys?
[X] "Before we get to that, there's something else..."
-[X] Apologize to Kanako for being suspicious of her.
[X] "You said you have good relations with the Oni, right? I've been absolutely amazed at how far they've come since the days when they subjugated Youkai Mountain, and now look at them."
-[X] "Bring Oni up to the Tengu village to show them how much they've progressed, compared to the Tengu."
-[X] "Wound their pride a little-- do so under the guise of 'showing them what a civilized society looks like.'"
[X] "If Akyuu is willing to talk to youkai, can we talk to her about the plight of the Tengu? She'd be an extremely effective way to get the message out to the humans."
Actually, I just thought of something else we might want to add, in addition to the vote already in place.
[X]We should also discuss this matter with Yuyuko, and see if she has any suggestions on the matter. She's more adept with politics than either of us, and she's been around long enough to have some long term perspectives.
Oh that Sanae ever impressionable.... to surprising extents.
Based miracles.

[x] Yours
We'll chip in later.
[X] This bandwagon here seems like one worth jumping in on.

Spit my tea when I saw my joke got included. Maybe I should make more votes while I'm sleep deprived, that's when I get those puns...

It was a worthy joke. So I stole it. And I'm never giving it back.
[X] "Before we get to that, there's something else..."
-[X] Apologize to Kanako for being suspicious of her.
[X] "You said you have good relations with the Oni, right? I've been absolutely amazed at how far they've come since the days when they subjugated Youkai Mountain, and now look at them."
-[X] "Bring Oni up to the Tengu village to show them how much they've progressed, compared to the Tengu."
-[X] "Wound their pride a little-- do so under the guise of 'showing them what a civilized society looks like.'"
[X] "If Akyuu is willing to talk to youkai, can we talk to her about the plight of the Tengu? She'd be an extremely effective way to get the message out to the humans."

I wonder, big papa was one of the most powerful onis right? why not ask him if he'd be interested in opening a second House of looooooove and tacos in the tengu village? it would be a great example of the changes onis went through. we'd have easy access to tacos which is always a plus in my opinion and having loooooooove around might help some tengus extract the stick from their ass, the tacos might do that on their own as well.
might also be a stupid idea on my part
Bringing Oni up from the underground is stupid and dangerous. We have pictures, and we have words; use them.
Yeah, I don't know if getting Oni involved is the best idea. Aya couldn't handle a few of them and she's far more progressive than the village. Oni and Tengu don't have a good past and bringing Oni straight to the conservative, stuck in the past Tengu village is likely to cause a panic.
we have picture don't we?
Not really sure if Oni are the best idea, especially considering how Aya reacted, and as was pointed out, she's one of the more progressive and open minded Tengu around. On the other hand, if we do bring in the Oni, I think we'd be best served going with a very small number (Maybe even only two or three for a first visit). Sukia might be good seeing as she's probably a known element around Gensokyo they'll be familiar with (at least in passing), and last we heard she was already attempting to fix things up between the humans and oni anyway (it would also be another chance to check off our list of Pleasant Meadows character encounters).

As much as I'd also like to say Big Papa would be another good oni to bring in for a visit to the village, I'm not sure how well the older Tengu would react once his previous alias of Big Paparo becomes known. There's also the question of if he or any of the other oni would actually even want to go to the mountain or how we'd convince them that going is a good idea.

Overall, I think >>27204 has the best idea. Possibly we could give Hatate some of Aya's pictures from the Mikami visit to the underground so she can run a story on the Oni's city (possibly we could just hire out the space in her paper and write the article ourselves, saving her the trouble of going down there if she's just as much a claustrophobe as Aya). The problem though, is that considering her current situation, I would bet my money that publishing some thing like an article on the advancements of the oni and comparing them to the Tengu's, would almost certainly be the final straw and get poor Hatate kicked out of the village and exiled.

And on a final note, the Potato Ritual is officially a thing now. This pleases me greatly.
[X] "Before we get to that, there's something else..."
-[X] Apologize to Kanako for being suspicious of her.
-[X] Just a warning, but some of the Tengu might not be inclined to support you. A lot of them who see you as an outsider rather than a leader. We can't give off the impression that you have ulterior motives. I'm inclined to believe you, but will they?
[X] "You said you have good relations with the Oni, right? I've been absolutely amazed at how far they've come since the days when they subjugated Youkai Mountain, and now look at them."
-[X] It might be too much to bring them up to the mountain right now, but I took some photos and notes while I was down there. Hatate could write an article to show them how much they've progressed, compared to the Tengu.
-[X] "Wound their pride a little-- do so under the guise of 'showing them what a civilized society looks like.
[X] If Akyuu is willing to talk to youkai, can we talk to her about the plight of the Tengu? She'd be an extremely effective way to get the message out to the humans.
[X]We should also discuss this matter with Yuyuko, and see if she has any suggestions on the matter. She's more adept with politics than either of us, and she's been around long enough to have some long term perspectives.
[X] Anyways, those are my thoughts on the matter right now. What are your own plans on the matter?

Of course you can't just take a few Oni, plop them down in the middle of the village and expect everything to go well. If we did that, the whole village would think they are in the middle of an invasion, go into a panic and play right into the elder's hands. But at the same time their value can't be understated here; at the very least, if the Tengu knew we had at least two or three Oni backing us they would be much more hesitant to take steps to block what we do.

Using pictures and words is an effective tactic I'll admit, but you're going to have to be prepared to face some pretty big consequences if you go down that path. Like >>27207 said if we get Hatate involved any further it's probably going to get her shunned from the village outright, and while letting people know about the Oni village might get some Tengu on our side, it probably wouldn't be enough momentum to get people to change the status quo. Going down the path would probably serve to divide the village even further than before, and I'd rather choose a path that would avoid that if possible.
Hina still owns her old shrine doesn't she? Instead of bringing the Oni directly into the Tengu Village, why don't we invite our gentlemen Oni friends to a polite party at Hina's old shrine. We could get Hatate and Momiji to invite some of their Tengu friends too and have them mingle with the Oni. Since the old shrine is within Tengu territory, the elders could not stop the Tengu from going there. At the same time, since it is technically Hina's property, the elders could not send an armed wolf squadron to kick the Oni out since they would not technically be trespassing on Tengu territory. The Oni would have a chance to apologize to the Tengu for their past actions and make some new Tengu friends, and the Tengu would get to see how far the Oni have advanced. We could even invite some kappa and other races too, just to make the ploy less obvious and make the Tengu more comfortable.

...that's actually not a bad idea for a first move. There's no need to move too fast here, so a low key party sounds like the perfect way to get things moving.
>>27196 here. Amending my vote to include the ideas of the others, plus a few others I just came up with.

[X] Apologize to Kanako for being overly suspicious of her.

[X] See if we can get the Tengu to realize how far they've fallen behind by comparing them to the Oni...
-[X] ...either by showing them pictures of the Ancient City...
-[X] ...or by bringing Oni to a neutral place on Youkai Mountain to show to the Tengu (like Hina's old shrine).
--[X] See if you can get some Kappa to come along, to deter suspicion.
--[X] Include a formal apology by the Oni.
--[X] Instead of actually going back underground, try to find Yuugi. She must come to the surface often (since she's in a relationship with Albrecht), and she might know about other Oni who do the same thing (she was also referred to by Albrecht as "a surprisingly gentle, well-educated woman," so she'd be a perfect example to show to the Tengu).

[X] Talk to Akyuu. She can effectively tell the humans about the plight of the Tengu.
-[X] Add that if they remain stuck in old traditions, they'll continue to be wary of, or even hostile to, other species-- including the humans.

[X] Ask Yuyuko for advice.
(This might pan out, or it might not. Remember, she's looking to stabilize Gensokyo politics; wanting to cause change among the Tengu might have the opposite effect. Also, she'll probably have a few cross words to say to Kanako.)
lets just show the pics of the Underground first before bringing the Oni. Consider Aya's reaction I highly doubt that the Tengu WON'T run around like headless chickens when they see then coming up the mountain thinking that they want it back.
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I bite my lip, thinking it over. "Actually, I do have something in mind. But first..." I take a deep breath, swallowing my pride. I still don't fully trust Kanako, but she's been fairly up-front with me so far, and I've basically been acting like she was about to declare war on the Mikami Shrine or something. It was a bit uncalled for, not to mention unpolitical. Besides, if she really is planning to lend me a hand with helping my own people, it wouldn't hurt to show some appreciation, now would it? "...I'm sorry."

Kanako blinks, suddenly looking confused. "...Pardon?"

I sigh deeply. "I'm sorry for being so suspicious of you. You've been pretty direct with me, and you deserved better treatment than that. It's just that Hina and the Akis have had a rough go of it, and I was worried right from the get-go that you might cause them problems if they did well for themselves." Not to mention Suwako's warning. "But you haven't done anything of the sort, and now here you are, offering your help to me. So... I'm sorry."

"Oh." Kanako blinks again. "Ah... uh... well, that is..." she fidgets a little, looking a bit... flustered? "Well, I know that my attitude can occasionally put people off... I mean I've always done what I can to secure my own shrine, and the future of Sanae, Suwako and myself. I suppose I can come across as a little aggressive, and I admit that the sudden appearance of a new faith on my doorstep kind of grabbed my attention."

She is acting flustered! I can't believe it!

"So, what I'm saying is, I guess, don't worry about it?" The war goddess seems to think over her words and then nods with greater confidence. "Yes. Don't worry about it. Let's just work together and try to resolve this situation, shall we?"

I nod. "Works for me." I still can't fully trust the woman in light of Suwako's warning, but I can at least try to work with her. The tengu really need the assistance. "By the way, aren't you worried that the tengu may not support you? I mean, even now, a lot of them see you more as an outsider than anything else."

Kanako raises an eyebrow. "You mean am I worried that they will support me any less than they do right now?"

I consider that. "Point."

Kanako nods. "Besides, there are certain benefits to having the patronage of a goddess or two on the very mountain upon which you reside, which even your obstinate elders can recognize and admit. No, I'm not terribly worried. But I thank you for your concern." Kanako smiles. "Now then, what were you thinking?"

I take a deep breath. "The Oni."

Kanako stares at me for a long moment before sitting back down on a rock. "Oh, this should be good."

"Just hear me out," I reply. "Now, you indicated that you were on good terms with them?"

"I wouldn't go that far," Kanako shrugs. "Satori doesn't trust me in the slightest after that episode with her pet, but I still do arrange for technical support in maintaining the nuclear reactor down there. This gives me some eyes in the underground city, and at least allows me to import some strong alcohol. I never really tried to expand my influence down there, due to a general lack of a devout nature among the Oni." She raises an eyebrow. "Bravo again, by the way."

"Thanks," I shrug. "Anyway, you've been down there though, right?" Kanako nods. "Then you've seen how far they've come. How much they've developed since the old days, when they completely subjugated Youkai Mountain."

Kanako nods slowly. "I see what you mean. You intend to show your people just how far their former masters have come, while the tengu have remained unchanging."

"Yep," I nod. "The thought of being left in the dust by the Oni... it's kind of hard for me to take, and I'm far from being a traditional tengu. It'll be a nasty shock to the rest of the village, for sure."

"That might rattle your people out of their stasis," Kanako admits, pondering. "But you don't actually intend to march a few of them directly into the middle of the village, do you?" She looks wary at the thought.

I think back to my reaction when I first made the acquaintance of Goro and his gentlemanly crew. I consider the reaction that might happen in the middle of a village full of tengu, who in general are a lot less open-minded than me.

The mental image makes me pale.

"I'm going to take that as a 'no,' then," Kanako says wryly.

"...Let's call it Plan B," I say awkwardly. "I don't think that just showing them off to the village would accomplish a whole heck of a lot. On the other hand, I was down in the underground city myself and took pictures, made some notes. If I could write an article describing what has happened in the Oni's city, and show just how much they have changed, it might cause some of the tengu to embrace change themselves."

"Wound their pride," Kanako says with a nod. "Not bad. It could certainly work. Would you want your people to actually meet with some Oni at some point in the future?"

"Maybe?" I say thoughtfully. "Maybe somewhere on neutral ground. Some Oni that I trust, that wouldn't overwhelm the tengu... too much." A certain degree of shock was pretty much unavoidable here, in the end. "As to how I'm going to do this... I'm not sure. I could certainly write a special limited edition of the Bunbunmaru Times, doing nothing but talking about the underground city, or I could get Hatate to put it in her newspaper. Though I'm afraid that would open her up to retaliation from the elders."

"It's a good idea, and one that I support,' Kanako says with a nod. "But it's not enough. You're going to need more than that to change your society. Though at least you'll get your foot in the door with that one."

"Would Akyuu be of any help, by the way?" I ask curiously. "I mean, she sounds like she's more willing to talk to youkai these days, and could out the word out to humans..."

"Maybe, though I'm not sure what getting humanity involved would do," Kanako admits. "This sounds like more of an internal tengu affair, and having humans on the mountain might cause your people to get overly defensive. Still, if you had ideas on the matter, I'm certainly willing to hear them."

I think it over. The Oni plan was the big one in my mind. Is there anything else...?

[ ] Expand on your plans a bit more (needs a write-in).
[ ] Hear Kanako's plans.
[ ] Actually, call a recess, and go talk things over with the Mikami.

-Regarding the Akyuu thing, I'm not sure what people were getting at there. Care to elaborate?
Keymaster no, you can't just dangle a flustered Kanako in front of me like that. You'll put me in the hospital.

As for voting, I'm sure the others have some ideas but I'd like to [x] Hear Kanako's plans.
[X] Hear Kanako's plans.
[x] Hear Kanako's plans.
Congratulations, Keymaster, you managed to do the impossible:
Get me to actually like Kanako.

[x] Hear Kanako's plans.

The only thing I can think of is to play the waiting game, and let word get out further, so let's hear what Kanako has in mind.

I kind of wanted to see if we could find a new place for the Tengu to settle down, like near the human village; Akyuu could help spread the word, and we could curry favor with Miko by arguing the Tengu could help stimulate the human village (Economics 101: More competitors mean a more stable, prosperous economy).
Since most of the Tengu want to stay in the village, though, I can't see them leaving unless in an en masse protest or something...

[X] So, Kanako, how have your attempts into making snake/frog hybrids coming along?
Just to see how she'll react. We're Aya, we can get away with it.

[x] Hear Kanako's plans.

Let's do this.
[x] Hear Kanako's plans.
On a side note, if she was plotting something, we just dropped a massive guilt-trip on her. *amused*
[x] Hear Kanako's plans.

[X] So, Kanako, how have your attempts into making snake/frog hybrids coming along?
[x] Hear Kanako's plans.

Two heads are better than one when it comes to brainstorming.
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[x] Hear Kanako's plans.

More options are always good.

As for elaboration on the Oni plan, some people suggested a party where we would invite oni, tengu, and human alike to show a select few tengu more directly how far the oni have come, without it seeming overly suspicious.

Just make it a celebration of the fact that the Mikami has finally stabilized or something.
[x] Hear Kanako's plans.

Because reporters should be curious, and I am too!

[x] So, Kanako, how have your attempts into making snake/frog hybrids coming along?

Because it's funny! Asking about how they first met would probably be taking it too far...
>Because it's funny! Asking about how they first met would probably be taking it too far...
I want to ask that, too, but something tells me I'd be afraid of the answer...
Same here. It just seems to me that the comment might burn our relations with Kanako, just as things were starting to look up.
[x] Hear Kanako's plans.

Best to try and not unduly upset our prospective ally in my opinion.
[x] Hear Kanako's plans.
[×] So, Kanako, how have your attempts into making snake/frog hybrids coming along?

Consider this a vote against the above.

As adorable as it would be to see Kanako get flustered again, I am SICK AND FUCKING TIRED of the "No Experience with Men" Kanako meme. Here, flustered Kanako was funny and original because we did something she didn't expect.

(Of course, that's assuming she'll be dodgy about the question. For all we know, she might be a real tiger in bed!)
People with sexual experience can still be flustered about it. Not everyone just loves to talk about what they do behind closed doors. Kanako can have loads of experience and still get embarrassed when asked about it.

Also, since when is that a meme? I know of just one artist off the top of my head who does that. I don't know if it's something that happens in doujins a lot, but that's definitely not the best medium to use as a reference for characterization.
I've already voted, but the snake/frog hybrid thing is fucking stupid.
I didn't vote for it, cause i don't care either way, but Keymaster's not a sadistic asshole. I doubt he'd allow us to ruin everything we're working for over something so insignificant.

Besides, it's not like this is MiG and we're voting to jump off the roof.

That's fucking stupid.

[x]Jump off the roof
>since when is that a meme
Ever since people decided that calling something a meme is a good way of dissuading others from using a concept or pairing in fanworks. There's plenty of that bullshit around nowdays and most of it is almost completely baseless, usually these cunts drag out one or two example to make a "case" that this is a widespread phenomenon, a meme and a cliche, and thus people who use it are <something the idiots making the arguments don't agree with>.
Okay, pretty obvious that Aya will be listening to Kanako's suggestions.

But not tonight. I've spent the last two days at a workshop and am kinda tired. In fact, I've had to correct a few spelling errors just in this short post. So yeah, tomorrow.
I suspect that came about as a result of Suwako being a great times N grandmother, and hte impulse to make contrast.
workshop? Like an autobody workshop or something like that?
Probably a writing workshop or something like that. Not that he needs it though.
Also, I fail to see how having experience with men/women as being easily flustered are mutually incompatible.
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I shake my head. "Just thinking out loud. Anyway, you said you had a few ideas. Care to share?"

Kanako nods and folds her arms, face taking on a serious cast. "Right. I have several ideas, so here they are. The first one is armed rebellion."

I reel at this. "Oh for the heavens' sake, Kanako..."

Kanako looks at me seriously. "One must consider all options, no matter how distasteful, Shameimaru. In any case, armed rebellion is in many ways the simplest method to execute. Simply agitate the more frustrated elements of you society, and lead a rebellion against the old order, forcibly deposing them. This allows the tengu to aggressively break free from the past. It is, as you may suspect, the worst of the options I have considered."

"No kidding," I mutter. "Violence is what screwed my people up in the first place. I have no interest in repeating that, or of tearing my people apart. That's what many are afraid of in any case: civil war. No, vetoed, a million times vetoed."

"With no complaints here," Kanako sighs. "I was merely listing the options, in any case. The second option is for someone to challenge and depose the elders."

I blink. "Challenge?"

The war goddess nods. "Yes. Your people still respect strength, and personal accomplishment. If someone were to come along, call the old guard out, and defeat them, this individual could then promptly reshuffle the high council, and the entire village, as they saw fit."

"...You mean me, don't you?" I realize.

"You're old, experienced, and strong," Kanako tells me. "With a little training to regain your old edge, you wouldn't have too much trouble taking control of the village, I wager. Especially with spellcard rules in place to prevent any violence."

"Which still leaves several live elders and their followers in place to make life miserable for me afterwards," I point out, "And maybe lead to civil war regardless. And besides, there is no way in hell I'm taking a political position. Being a shrine maiden is one thing; the goddesses really do all the hard work. Running a village, though?" I shake my head. "No. There's a reason I never took a position on the council in the first place. I'm not cut out for such leadership, Lady Yasaka."

Kanako shrugs. "Sometimes needs must. And those who disdain power are often those best-suited for it. But you make good points, and I know you have other obligations besides that. Moving on, then. There is always the possibility of an exodus."

I hesitate. "...Make a new village?"

"Yes," Kanako nods. "While I would hate to see people leave my mountain, it would still allow the more open-minded among you to simply depart the stale, old lifestyle and find something new for themselves. Leave the elders to their village, and build something for yourself."

I wince. "It... sounds good, I admit, but it's not something I like to think about. I mean, it's still dividing my people, for one thing. For another, a lot of the tengu still have strong ties to the village. They may be frustrated with it, but it's still home, you know?"

"Do you feel a need to return there?" Kanako asks me.

I sigh. "No." My home is now at the Mikami Shrine, and I have no desire to be anywhere else. "But there may not be a lot of tengu who want to just abandon the village like that."

"Possibly more than you think," Kanako says simply. "And often the best way to move forward is to make a clean cut with the past. But again, these are only ideas." She ponders. "Actually, you already mentioned one of my ideas: force the tengu to confront the world beyond the mountain. Make them see what they're missing out on. You've clearly put more thought into it than I did, so we'll just leave your idea standing as it is."

"It'll help destabilize things," I admit, "But you're right. It's only one step. The key is to weaken the elders' grip on things."

"And the best way to do that is to get the tengu people more involved in the rest of Gensokyo," Kanako agrees. "Hence my next idea: a trade show."

I blink. "Huh?"

"The kappa are always eager to show off their wares, yes?" Kanako smiles. "And one of your goddesses supports hard work and effort. So, set up a trade show at a neutral spot, maybe even your own shrine. It's fairly close to the mountain, such that the tengu would feel comfortable visiting, and people from the rest of Gensokyo could go there as well."

"Maybe even the Oni..." I muse. "That would let my people see all that they're missing out on, and make the elders' demands seem even more outrageous. Assuming we could get people to go to it."

Kanako raises an eyebrow. "I suspect that you have more influence than you think. Do you not know of any tengu who would be willing to attend such an event? Or to spread the word of such an event?"

"A few," I admit. "And getting to actually know a few people would do the tengu a whole world of good." I nod. "It's not a bad idea."

"Though it doesn't deal with the root of our problem," Kanako points out. "The elder council. You'll need to confront them at some point."

"I know," I sigh. "Any more ideas?"

Kanako hesitates, looking awkward all of a sudden. "Well... Suwako had one, while we were discussing this very issue. I hesitate to bring it up, but..."

I stare at the war goddess, who is actually fidgeting now. "What?"

Kanako sighs, then throws her hands up into the air. "Suwako thinks that the tengu collectively need to get laid." Uh. "Her proof of this is you and that official, Ichiro I believe. She claims that both of you loosened up a great deal recently, and it's done wonders for you. She attributes this progress to... well..."

"...Getting laid?" I hazard.

"Yes," Kanako says wearily.

I think it over. "There's some logic to that assessment," I admit. Gods know I sure as hell needed it.

Kanako looks around warily. "Careful. If she hears you, I don't want you to encourage her. But yes, Suwako's bright idea was to throw a big party at the base of the mountain, have some music and lots of alcohol, and... well, have some match-makers making sure that your people have that kind of a good time."

I stare at Kanako. "Leave it to Suwako to think up something like that."

"It's not my kind of plan," Kanako admits. "It sounds silly, and I don't think things would work out that easily. But, she does have a point. A little... physical affection can help take the edge off your life."

I raise an eyebrow. "Speaking from experience?"

Kanako rolls her eyes. "Despite odd rumors to the contrary, I'm not an innocent young maiden, Shameimaru. I just don't advertise my past encounters like a certain someone else does. In any case, these are some of the ideas I was toying around with. Did you have anything else to add?"

"Well, I do have some old documents detailing what really happened in our past," I explain. "Revealing them to the village would be dropping a real bomb on things. Could really shake things up."

Kanako nods in approval. "The power of the Truth. My advice? Make some printed copies of those accounts, distribute them, and then invite people to see the originals. That would definitely help your cause, and your credibility, while diminishing that of the elders."

I sigh. "But in the end, I still have to deal with them. One way or the other."

The war goddess nods. "Inevitably. Regardless, those are the options I have to present to you. Think it over, and devise a plan of action. Should you accept it, I will provide my advice and assistance in this matter." She starts to hover off the ground. "I shall leave you to your thoughts now. Farewell."

I decide to push my luck a little. "Thanks for your help, Lady Yasaka!" I say cheerfully. "You know, you're a lot nicer than I thought!"

"Oh... well... uh..." Kanako sputters, flustering again. "I mean, I do believe in aiding those in need after all, and I of course have an interest, so, well, uh, oh cut that out already!" she finally sputters, blushing ever so slightly.

"Sorry," I snicker, "I just couldn't help myself."

"You're worse than Suwako," Kanako mutters, rolling her eyes. Then with a flicker, the goddess is gone.

I sigh, and look up at the sky. Somehow, this is both very helpful, and yet very complicated. I wonder what Kanako is really up to. Assuming that she isn't being completely up-front with me, that is.

Anyway, now what?

[ ] Go confront the elders.
[ ] No, go back to the Mikami and think things over.
[ ] Go to Momiji's place and wait for her and Hatate.


Microbiology educational workshop on Mycology, as well as Ova and Parasites. I'm a biological sciences guy.
[x] Go to Momiji's place and wait for her and Hatate.

Discuss it with them.
[X] No, go back to the Mikami and think things over.
-[X] Ask the goddesses about their feelings regarding a Trade Fair.
--[X] If they're good with holding it on the shrine, we can use it as a way to draw in some followers, and can set about inviting talented individuals in the underground, Yamame in particular can use some good publicity, but we'll see about the others. Certain Kappa and Tengu would certainly appreciate having another venue to show off their stuff.
--[X] If they don't want the trade fair on their shrine, or if they see a flaw in it, let's discuss the other options with them. Even if they won't help as representatives of the religion, Kanako was right to point out that they'll help as friends.

It occurs to me that the Tengu's main trade at the moment is newspapers. Does that mean that what trade they'll have to offer at a trade fair would be writing?
[x] Go to Momiji's place and wait for her and Hatate.
So Kanako knows about the Tengu's history?
No, their main trade would be culture. All the things that make them unique and interesting, that the people of Gensokyo are forgetting.
The Tengu most likely have a lot of things to offer Gensokyo that most people don't even realize (Outfits and tapestry are two, off the top of my head).

[×] Go to Momiji's place and wait for her and Hatate.

A trade show is a subtle, interesting idea, because it not only shows what the Tengu have to offer the rest of Gensokyo, it also opens up the rest of Gensokyo to the Tengu. We can definitely showcase the Oni's culture this way, and it would be subtler than just plopping them down on the Kagiyama Shrine. (also, since it's a major social gathering in Gensokyo, booze will be involved by default).

If we play our cards right, we can use this idea to help the Mikami curry favor with both Byakuren (because it helps the various peoples of Gensokyo learn about one another) and Miko (because, as I mentioned before, it would help economically-- and I get the feeling after decades of being Taishi Shoutoku, Miko's tired of petty clan squabbles). A social gathering sponsored by the Romance of the Three Shrines will gather tons and tons of people, by default (though, like SoPM, we need to worry about what Reimu might think).

We're getting ahead of ourselves with that last one, though. One thing at a time.

Also, Keymaster? Thank you for making Kanako into a character I can not only love, but respect.
>also, since it's a major social gathering in Gensokyo, booze will be involved by default
Looks like we're making progress towards Suwako's plan already!
[×] Go to Momiji's place and wait for her and Hatate

I quite like the idea of the trade fair. Nothing attracts support better than an endevour where everyone stands to profit, so it'll be hard for the elders to find any specific reason to veto letting random Tengu turn up to check things out or stop their own people's businesses from setting up stalls without looking bad/like they're over reacting.

If we host on neutral ground like at the base of the mountain or Hina's old shrine, having one or two of the Oni traders the Mikami have deals with might also be a way to show the Oni's progress. Even if that is a bit to much, we can always just fall back in maybe having Yamame set up a stall and display some pictures and depictions of stuff she and her crew have built for the ONI in their city. Folding the idea of a party into this could also work, as we can always just have something like an after-fair function that anyone is free to join in with if they wish to, once the main fair is over for the day.

Another of the great things about the trade fair is that even if it doesn't have as great an effect on the Tengu elders as we hope, as a nice bonus, it still gives the Mikami a chance to do more advertising and possibly gain more faith and followers in the process.
[x] Go to Momiji's place and wait for her and Hatate.

Might as well.
Wait a minute...
>"Suwako thinks that the tengu collectively need to get laid; Her proof of this is you and that official, Ichiro, I believe. She claims that both of you loosened up a great deal recently, and it's done wonders for you. She attributes this progress to... well..."

How the flying fuck did Suwako know that?

Mishaguji-sama is known for more than just being a curse god!


[×] Go to Momiji's place and wait for her and Hatate

Conspiratorial conversation, go!

Potato rituals?
she likely has her ways, that and between her and Kanako, she beats Kanako by a few miles at least in slyness.
Sounds Legit
It makes perfect sense. Potatoes are covered in eyes, so they are always watching. By becoming a potato, you can tap into the knowledge they have gathered.
Clearly, Potato Rituals will be the wave of the future
I wish I could see the look on Reimu's face when she first learns about the whole potato ritual, and then realizes how she may have had a role in its formation.

I'd be surprised if we DON'T see said reaction eventually.
[X] Go to Momiji's place and wait for her and Hatate

We're still "at the village", so let's finish up here properly before going back.

Aya and Hina aren't exactly a well hidden secret.
Itchy probably wasn't too subtle either, by the time he was so hammered he didn't even know what he was doing until the day after.

Also, she's a Goddess. Is it really that hard to imagine that she knows what's going on in her own backyard, basically?
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...I need to talk to Momiji and Hatate. For that matter, I also need to talk to Hina and the Akis, but my tengu friends are more directly involved in what's going on. They have a right to be informed. They also might have some insights on Kanako's proposed plans, as well as my own.

Nodding to myself, I take to the air and flap back towards the tengu village. The streets are quieter than they were earlier, but there's a sort of... air to them all of a sudden. A pressure. The whispers seem more furtive, and the looks people give each other seem more questioning, and at times hostile. The tension is almost palpable.

It slowly dawns on me that I may have ignited a powder keg. Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

Still, I can't help but wonder as I see people talking quietly as they walk along the streets; hushed, furtive conversations that stop abruptly as they see me and begin again when I'm out of earshot. I can feel people looking at me from the corners of their eyes. Are they talking about me? Maybe. Do they know of my plans? Are they in agreement, or do they simply wish that I'd pack up and leave?

What's more worrying are the patrols of wolves in the streets, wearing the livery of the central guard. The elders showing off their muscle, no doubt.

I let myself into Momiji's house and heave a sigh. God, things are getting tense. I want my Hina. I want to hold my Hina. I want to make sweet love to my Hina and whisper sweet nothings to her. But I guess that'll have to wait until I get things squared away here with Momiji and Hatate. Well, hell with it. I'll just have a nap until they arrive.

My peaceful nap on Momiji's comfy couch, and my dream of a sultry, seductive Hina is rudely interrupted by said Momiji shaking me awake. "Hey, I'm back. You can wake up now."

I look blearily up at her, then close my eyes tightly. "No. Ten more minutes. Then we talk."


"I was having a nice dream, okay?! Hina was doing some awesome stuff in it!" I glower up at Momiji.

The white wolf raises an eyebrow. "You know, you can do all of that stuff in real life now."

...Holy shit, I can! Feeling much better, I sit up and stretch, feeling much better about the world and life in general. Note to self: buy Hina something small and gauzy. Then beg her to wear it. "Where's Hatate?"

"Came in with me," Momiji responds, tugging me to my feet. "Are you planning to stay for dinner?"

"Maybe... I wanted to talk to the two of you first," I say, shaking off the last of my weariness.

"About what?" Hatate asks, walking into the living room. "You mean about the tengu you spoke to today?"

"No, I figure you two have already compared notes on that," I reason. Momiji and Hatate glance at each other and nod. "No, I mean my meeting with Lady Kanako."

This gets Momiji's immediate attention. "The goddess?! What did she want with you?" The wolf guard looks worried, and her hand instinctively reaches to her side, stroking her sword.

"Well, much to my surprise, she just wanted to talk," I shrug. "Well, that... and offer her services."

Hatate stares at me. Shares a glance with Momiji. Stares at me again. "Um... can you elaborate a bit on that, please?"

"Sure, but let's keep it private, okay?" I sigh. "Also, I'd like to suggest something alcoholic. I've got a lot to drop on the two of you."

"I'll dig out the sake," Momiji snorts.

It takes me about an hour to go over everything that happened with Kanako. By the end of it, the bottle of sake is completely drained, and Momiji stares down into her empty cup as though seeking answers within. Pretty much a standard pose for many drinkers, really. Hatate, meanwhile, looks thoughtful.

"It sounds like Lady Kanako is being forthright with you, at least," Momiji comments.

"Maybe, but you have to wonder if she has an angle in all of this," Hatate muses.

"If she does, I'm fairly certain that I can figure it out," I say confidently. "If all else fails, I'll get Sanae drunk and ask her nicely what her mighty mother-figure has been up to lately."

"You're planning to take Kanako up on her offer, then?" Momiji inquires.

I sigh again. "I don't have much of a choice, I figure. Kanako was being honest about something, at least: she stands to gain a lot if the tengu open up a bit. Now, that's not to say that she doesn't have anything else planned, but she has a lot to gain from helping us out, and a lot to lose by pulling some stunt on the Mikami shrine. We've got some serious backing now, and she knows it."

"In other words, Kanako may be up to something, but you think you have enough breathing room to deal with whatever it may be," Hatate observes.

"Assuming she is planning something," I shrug. "Suwako indicated that Kanako always has a plan, but she could well be legit this time. Either way, I'm gonna err on the side of caution here. Anyway, what do you think of the plans so far?"

Momiji looks troubled. "A lot of what she said worries me. I mean, a coup? A civil war? Abandoning our home? It doesn't sit right with me, Aya."

"Sometimes you just need a fresh start," Hatate shrugs. "Still, I know where you're coming from. But some of that other stuff sounds good. I mean, a publicity campaign that works against the elders? That's perfect!"

"I like the sounds of the trade show," Momiji says slowly. "I mean, go ahead and call us uncreative, but we still have some very nice products here. Weaving, textiles, forge-work... it could be interesting to see what other folks have to offer."

"Assuming the elders don't just veto it out of hand," Hatate mutters. "Some nonsense about not needing to know the affairs of lessers, blabbity blah blah blah."

"I don't think they will," I tell her. "That's why we hold the show at the base of the mountain. Hell, maybe at Hina's old shrine! We just need to encourage the tengu to give it a visit, and the elders can't exactly forbid it without looking like absolute fools."

"I'm all for whatever you have in mind, as long as it doesn't come to violence in the streets," Momiji says. "As to some of the rest of it... I'm really nervous about the thought of meeting Oni, and details of our ancient past kind of make me feel anxious... but I trust you, Aya." Momiji smiles warmly.

"Screw nervousness, I wanna see what this stuff is like!" Hatate enthuses, leaning forward. "Not sure if I could ever bring myself to visit the underground city, though. I mean, walking around under all of that rock?" The crow shivers.

"Don't remind me," I groan, suppressing some unpleasant memories of cramped, endless tunnels. "Anyway, nothing's set in stone yet. I just wanted to see what you two thought."

"I'm behind you all the way, Aya. Just please, don't let there be blood in the streets." Momiji looks at me seriously as she says this.

"I'll do everything I can to avoid it," I promise. "If things go well, the tengu will be craving change so much that it'll happen on its own, and there'll be nothing those old bastards can do about it." I savor the mental image of befuddled elders staring around in confusion as the village unanimously decides to start ignoring them.

"Speaking of the elders, do you plan to confront them?" Momiji asks me.

I shake my head. "Not tonight, at any rate. I really need to think things through, and work out if I even want to confront them directly. Just walking in and flipping them off might not do much other than annoy them, after all."

"Either that, or it'll impress some people and bring them over to your side," Hatate points out.

"...I'll think about it," I say at last.

"Fair enough. So, were you planning to stay for supper? Maybe stay another night?" Momiji raises her eyebrows as she asks me this.

[ ] Stay with Momiji and Hatate, talk some more.
[ ] Go back home, talk to the Mikami.
[ ] Write-in.
[x] Go back home, talk to the Mikami.
Hinahug time.
[Joke Vote] Actually, literally walk into the elder council, flip them off, turn them around and walk out.

(Because the image is hilarious)
[x] Go back home, talk to the Mikami
-[x] Keep an eye out for interested parties for the Trade Show on the way back

It might not amount to much, but you never know
[X] Go back home, talk to the Mikami.
-[X] Keep an eye out for parties that may be interested in the Trade Show on the way back.

Adjusted grammar, otherwise it's the same vote.
[X] Go back home, talk to the Mikami.
-[X] Keep an eye out for parties that may be interested in the trade show on the way back.

As much as I'd like to talk to Momiji and Hatate some more, I'm not sure how much we could accomplish (unless we have photos of the Ancient City on hand that we could give to Hatate).

Of course, if we stay longer, Hina might miss us, and might be more willing to give Aya the kind of welcome-home gift she'd really appreciate... if you know what I mean.
x] Go back home, talk to the Mikami
-[x] Keep an eye out for interested parties for the Trade Show on the way back
[jk] "I would, but I don't think you two really want a third wheel hanging around. Best let you get back to what I interrupted~"

[X] Go back home, talk to the Mikami.
-[X] Keep an eye out for parties that may be interested in the trade show on the way back.

Ah, that's good. Never can let the good wit die down.

[X] "I would, but I don't think you two really want a third wheel hanging around. Best let you get back to what I interrupted~"
[X] Go back home, talk to the Mikami.
-[X] Keep an eye out for parties that may be interested in the trade show on the way back.
[X] "I would, but I don't think you two really want a third wheel hanging around. Best let you get back to what I interrupted~"
[X] Go back home, talk to the Mikami.
-[X] Keep an eye out for parties that may be interested in the trade show on the way back.
[x] Stay with Momiji and Hatate, talk some more.
[X] "I would, but I don't think you two really want a third wheel hanging around. Best let you get back to what I interrupted~"
[X] Go back home, talk to the Mikami.
-[X] Keep an eye out for parties that may be interested in the trade show on the way back.

We can come back tomorrow with some pictures of the underground and copies of those histories and writings that Hatate wanted to look at (we should also make a couple of extra copies for ourselves incase anything happens to the originals). Visiting the kappa and the human village for parties that might be interested in being involved with the trades fair might also be a good idea at some point.
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